Winter is a special time for beer lovers. That's why our crack team of editors tasted dozens of winter ales this month and whittled the list down to ten. Here are our picks for this season's best winter ales:
Breakside La Tormenta
The most divisive pick (in our office at least), with some staff members openly cringing, and others proclaiming it their favorite. But if you've come around to sours, this is a sublime choice to share with fellow discerning family members. Bright and tart with hints of apricot, La Tormenta would probably go well with any holiday dessert. Food pairing: Something icy, creamy, and sweet like, say, ice cream.
Pfriem Winter Ale
Among our team of tasters, this was a standout favorite. Floral, bright, and herbaceous, it's almost like a refreshing summer IPA masquerading as a seasonal. Food pairing: Something hearty and fatty.
Pfriem Belgian Christmas Ale
Yes, we have two Pfriem winter beers on this list—but we can't help it. This beer is on the milder end of the Belgian spectrum, with just the right notes of coriander and a bright finish. Food pairing: Breakfast. Trust us.
Laurelwood Vinter Varmer Brown Ale
Gentle, malty, earthy, with a hint of bleu cheese (in a good way!), this is another exceptionally drinkable offering that won't put you into a stupor. Food pairing: Pie or a solid cheeseburger.
Oakshire Ill-Tempered Gnome Winter Ale
Relatively pale and on the thinner side, this one sports a coffee nose and slight spicy heat that tastes like the holidays in a bottle. Food pairing: Hawaiian pizza. Deal with it.
Pelican Bad Santa Cascadian Dark Ale
We found the hoppy, rich, toasted maltiness worth coming back to again and again. Food pairing: Something unpretentious and salty, like a plate of fries.
Deschutes The Dissident
The official description of this "Flanders-style sour brown" doesn't do it justice. Tart with heavy notes of cherry and the French oak cabernet and pinot barrels it was aged in, this is one to savor and, ideally, share over a light meal. Food pairing: A cheese plate
A classic of the genre, this year's version has a hint of molasses in the finish and caraway up front. By far the most traditional of our picks. Food pairing: Sweet potatoes
Lompoc C-Son's Greetings
Rich, bready, and deep amber in color, this Imperial IPA goes down surprisingly smooth. Break it out during social situations in need of extra lubrication. Food pairing: Carnitas tacos