By Anita Smith
The holiday season has come to an end, a new year is upon us, and winter is officially underway! Many of us have a love/hate relationship with this season. Whether you live for this time of year or are counting down the short days and long nights until spring, we’ve got a beer to make the most of anything winter throws your way.
The Best Beers to enjoy…
After a day on the slopes or playing in the snow
After a long day skiing or sledding with the kids, no doubt you’ll want to wind down with a beer. What better way to end the day than with a hoppy IPA? Reach for a tried and true like Lagunitas IPA or Stone IPA, or try something new like Sierra Nevada’s celebratory 40th Hoppy Anniversary Ale, which showcases the bold flavors of a classic West Coast IPA: intense pine and citrus, with a deep gold color and slight caramel sweetness. Need something even stronger? Cape May’s Snag & Drop is a lupulin laden beast. This triple IPA weighs in at 10% ABV and is packed to the gills with the stickiest, most pungent hops.
After shoveling the driveway
Not all winter activities are fun… like shoveling the driveway or cleaning off cars. Chances are, you’re going to want to get it done as quickly as possible, get inside and warm up. Instead of making yourself some hot chocolate, reach for a Sierra Nevada Barrel-Aged Narwhal. Hearty and powerful with an 11.9% ABV, this heavy brew will warm you up fast, from the inside out. Or try 2SP The Russian. This award-winning Imperial stout has big, roasty and chocolatey flavors, with an espresso finish. The standard by which Russian Imperial stouts are judged, this one won’t disappoint.
While chillin’ at home by the fireplace
Some of us want to be outside as little as possible in the winter months. Curl up with a comfy blanket and a good book (or TV remote) with 21st Amendment Fireside Chat, brewed with Golding & Magnum hops and hints of spices and cocoa, this malt-heavy seasonal will hit the spot. Another excellent choice is Great Lakes Blackout Stout. Bold and dark as a power-less metropolis, this Russian Imperial stout is kindled with black malt & roasted barley and illuminated by flickers of bitter hops. Looking for something a little sweeter? How about a Saranac S’More Porter. Inspired by the campfire treat, this beer combines the best of both worlds: S’mores and beer. With the flavors of chocolate, marshmallow and graham cracker, it’s brewed with a blend of caramel biscuit, brown and roasted malts, and aged with chocolate and vanilla. Yum.
When recovering from workouts
Maybe you’re one of the many who resolve to lose weight in the New Year. Living “healthy-ish” doesn’t mean you have to swear off alcohol completely. You just have to choose wisely. Check out Dogfish Head’s Slightly Mighty IPA. It clocks in at just 95 calories and 3.6g carbs and is brewed with locally-grown barley and a hint of monk fruit (which is sweeter than regular sugar, but doesn’t raise blood sugar levels). Or go with any beer in Sufferfest’s lineup: Repeat Kolsch, FKT Pale Ale or Head Start Stout. Sufferfest beers are brewed for athletes. They’re full of good-for-you ingredients and they’re low-cal & gluten-removed, while still managing to be great-tasting. Another option is new Blue Moon Light Sky, a light, sessionable beer with bright citrus notes and only 95 calories. Or try Sixpoint’s new Trail Haze Hazy Adventure IPA. At just 99 calories and 4% ABV, you’ll get all of that juicy, hazy flavor, without any guilt. Best of all, a portion of proceeds from all purchases go to an environmental charity.
During the Super Bowl
Chances are, you’ll be attending or hosting a Super Bowl party. Your best bet for a long evening of rooting for your team is a low-ABV, sessionable beer, like Lagunitas DayTime, Harpoon Rec. League or new, UFO Light Force, a 98-calorie white ale that packs a refreshing punch of orange peel and coriander into a delightfully drinkable beer. Another great choice is Green Flash Saturhaze, a laid-back, easy-drinking IPA with tropical and citrus aromas that’s only 4.2% ABV! These beers are light and refreshing, allowing you to keep the party going for a while and still feel clear-headed enough to argue with the referees and rate those highly anticipated Super Bowl commercials. (Switch to Heineken 0.0 so you can drive home.)
While in a “hazy shade of winter” mood
Hazy beers are all the rage! And the winter months are seeing some great seasonal options, like Dock Street Winter Haze, Sixpoint Party Hat, Saranac Polar Haze IPA and Heavy Seas Hydra’s Haze, as well as awesome year-round offerings like Sixpoint’s new Meltdown double IPA, BrewDog Hazy Jane, Sierra Nevada Hazy Little Thing, Green Flash Tropical DNA and Firestone Walker’s brand-new, low-cal hazy IPA, FlyJack. These cloudy brews have become popular for their softness, juicy sweetness and citrusy, fruity flavors, and they’re a great option for those who love IPAs, but don’t love their bitterness.
To up your energy level
The winter blues are real. When it’s so cold that all you want to do is snuggle under a blanket, it’s time for a caffeinated pick-me-up like the new La Colombe Hard Cold Brew Coffees. Available in Black and Vanilla flavors, these premium, rich beverages are a perfect blend of alcohol and medium-roasted Columbian and Brazilian coffee. 100% natural Brown Bomber Hard Lattes (available in Mocha, Vanilla and seasonal Bourbon Caramel Latte) offer deliciously rich, creamy flavors along with a buzz. In need of something stronger? How about Heavy Seas Blackbeard’s Breakfast? This robust porter with a new world twist weighs in at 10% ABV. It’s aged in bourbon barrels and brewed with Chesapeake Bay Roasting Company’s Dark Sumatra coffee. And don’t forget the bourbon barrel aged beauty Allagash Barrel & Bean, brewed with sundried Ethiopian coffee beans. These coffee-infused brews will give you that much needed jolt of java, with a hard kick.
Anita Smith is a freelance writer and editor. In addition to writing for Draught Lines Magazine, she is also an executive editor of Chilled Magazine. Anita grew up in Delaware County and has a Communications degree from West Chester University. She currently lives in Norristown with her husband and three cats.