Each year as the seasons shift from fall to winter the beer scene changes as well. Pumpkin beers and marzens are gone for another year and in its place a new batch of seasonal offerings hit the shelf. Winter beers, those strong beers full of bold flavor, unique spice, and most importantly the ales that warm the body for those coldest of nights. Each year we sample these seasonal offerings from all over Colorado and come up with our favorites. In the spirit of the season this has become a tradition, and here are the best winter seasonal beers for 2013.
Accumulation (New Belgium Brewing, Fort Collins, CO): Often winter ales are dark, heavy, and spiced, but that is not at all the case with Accumulation, the newest addition to New Belgium’s great lineup of seasonal offerings. This White IPA is an homage to the snowfall in the Colorado winters and is nothing like any other seasonal you will have this year. The pale straw color appearance does not reflect the flavor profile of this beer. The citrus hop aroma from Mosaic and Amarillo hops carry through to the flavor creating a nice citrus forward beer. This is complimented by a dry mouth feel, and is balanced out by a strong bitterness. With a slightly lingering aftertaste, this is a beer that has several layers of flavor, and makes it very unique for the season.
Hibernation Ale (Great Divide Brewing, Denver, CO): Each year people wait in anticipation for Hibernation Ale to hit the shelves and tap lines, and with good reason. It’s not because it has a delicious spice blend, but instead because it is a hearty ale that warms the body on the coldest of nights. This English style Old Ale has a rich, full body and that matches the flavor perfectly with the richness of the malts. Through all the richness are subtle flavors of raisins, dates, and figs that add another level of flavor. The balance of this beer cannot be beat, and it is no wonder that this award winning beer continues to be one of the most popular every year, and one of the most warming beers of this winter season.
Christmas Ale (Upslope Brewing, Boulder, CO): When it comes to holiday beers one flavor profile comes to mind and that is the classic spiced ale. Upslope Brewing embodies that with their annual Christmas Ale, a Belgian Dubbel that has a light, effervescent body, but layers of flavor. Through the rich ruby color there is a fruit flavor and subtle spice note from the Abbey Yeast strain. But through that there is another level of spice notes that compliment the yeast, and while it is not revealed what spices are in it they are very warming. Hints of cinnamon and ginger give this beer that extra warmth, depth of flavor, and compliment the fruit flavor already in the beer. Again this is a balanced beer, and one of the most complex of the season.
Cocoa Porter (Tommyknocker Brewing, Idaho Springs, CO): When we were young there was nothing better than drinking a cup of hot chocolate on cold winter days. As adults this Idaho Springs brewery gives us that same flavor profile in their annual winter seasonal, the Cocoa Porter. This full bodied porter has a rich chocolate flavor that is balanced out with the addition of honey. The end result? A rich beer that is slightly sweet, but full of rich, chocolate flavor. Who would of thought that a cold beer could warm a person up so much. But with Cocoa Porter the childhood classic winter drink is brought to life in an adult version, minus the marshmallows and whipped cream. Regardless it is one of the best seasonal beers of 2013.
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