Winter beers are always worth looking forward to, since there’s nothing nicer during the holidays than drinking a festive spiced beer with friends and family. The ever-changing selection of beers brewed for the season means that you’ll always have something new to try. Here are six to try this winter, as well as a bonus contrarian brew for the "bah, humbug" crowd.
Sierra Nevada Wintertide
Sierra Nevada’s winter warmer is a departure from the brewery’s typically hop-forward brews. Spiced with coriander, nutmeg, ginger and cinnamon, Wintertide is nutty, rich and full of holiday cheer, with additional subtle notes of molasses and licorice. Find it as part of Sierra Nevada’s Snowpack, a 12-pack sampler that includes Wintertide, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Coffee Stout and another winter seasonal, Holiday Haze IPA.
Mikkeller Red/White Christmas
Danish "gypsy brewer" Mikkeller is always a reliable winter pick, with a handful of new holiday brews hitting its lineup each year. Red/White Christmas takes the toasty, malt-driven flavor of an imperial red ale and balances it with the tangy wheat and citrus notes of a witbier. The finished beer is briskly hopped, adding notes of pine and spruce.
Released in the summer, Weyerbacher’s 22nd anniversary can’t truly be considered a winter beer, but you wouldn’t know it at first taste. This 11.1% alcohol by volume strong ale drinks like a boozed-up holiday cocktail, featuring additions of vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon and orange peel that play wonderfully with notes of brown sugar and caramel.
Brew Hub Triptych
For good measure, here’s another not-technically-a-winter-beer entry that’s also an anniversary beer. Lakeland’s Brew Hub celebrated its third anniversary in October with this beer, a blend of three heavy hitters (think smoked Baltic porter and imperial stout) aged 16 months in Caribbean rum and Woodford Reserve barrels coated in a reduction of maple syrup, cinnamon and vanilla. This incredibly decadent winter cordial is available in waxed bombers at the Brew Hub tasting room, 3900 Frontage Road South in Lakeland.
Southern Lights Holiday Porter
Southern Lights’ first year brewing in Clearwater wouldn’t be complete without a proper winter seasonal. This robust porter is spiced with whole cinnamon sticks, nutmeg and vanilla beans — the quintessential winter beer combo. More good news: It’s available for purchase in growlers at the tasting room at 2045d Gulf to Bay Blvd. in Clearwater.
Tampa Bay Brewing Company Gingy Imperial Porter
Named after head brewer and redhead John Rankin, Gingy is a hefty imperial porter, spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice. It smells like egg nog and tastes like a gingerbread cookie, and it’s available on draft and in 16 oz. cans throughout the entire Tampa Bay area, which is something worth celebrating.
Grindhaus Brew Lab Get Scrooged
Not feeling particularly festive? You can still sneak in some subtle holiday spirit without admitting it at Clearwater Grindhaus Brew Lab at 1650 N Hercules Ave Unit I. Get Scrooged is a berliner weisse — perhaps the exact opposite of a winter seasonal — flavored with ginger and cranberry. Does that qualify it as a winter seasonal? Sure, but it’ll be our secret.