As with everything else, I hate conformity when it comes to beer drinking. But the fact of the matter is that humans are creatures of habit and most creatures tend to “follow the crowd”. It’s no different with breweries and if you think about it, from a purely scientific perspective, it makes sense to have different beers at different times of the year. Having grown up in a highly-advanced society, I’ve simply become accustomed to getting/having what I want, when I want it…
So, if I demand a fantastic DIPA in January, May, September or December, I can usually have it. But, “variety is the spice of life” as they say and so it is with beer drinking. You need to spice it up every once in a while in order to keep your thirst growing. So while I may not want to conform, I must say that I am a huge fan of the fantastic beers that the “winter” months bring us.
While CBC is not about “reviewing” beers, it is about sharing fantastic tasting experiences with interested or like-minded folks and so this post is designed to share some of the amazing non-IPAs currently available from respectable “craft beer” outfits.
If you have a favorite brew from a “craft brewery” (I’m sure BC is fantastic, but I only drink non-big beer affiliated craft) that you think folks should try, please let us know.
Here are some of the fantastic offerings of the season that are available locally in Southern California, the OC specifically.
Stone Brewing Co.: Xocoveza, A Chocolate, Winter-Spiced Mocha Stout
While the name may be a mouthful, the beer is 100% (perciento), whatever you want to call it, it is: L-E-G-I-T.
This “beer” registers 110 on any self-respecting “beer connoisseur’s” list. Aside from being a delicious, easy drinker it is a fantastic example of the marvelous things going on in American Craft Beer. This Stout is sure to turn the staunchest craft opponent into a craft padawan in the flick of a wrist… Think Abuelita’s Hot Chocolate in alchol form and you almost have the Winter deliciousness that is Stone’s Xocoveza. DO NOT SLEEP ON THIS BEER!
Oskar Blues Brewery: Death by Coconut, Irish Porter (Pass. Dash. Hit.)
🍀, Yup, Top-o-the-mornin’ to you my Blarney lovin’ bastards! Oskar has outdone himself with this fantastic take on the Coconut Porter. This is one delicious, monstorously coconut brew that simply must be followed up by another. ‘Tis a shame they only come in 4-packs, but if you see one, grab it before the fella next to you and if you don’t, then—fight him for it. Seriously, a must try for any Coconut lover.
Hangar 24 Craft Brewery: Local Fields (Series): Warmer, Winter Warmer Ale
This is one local, winter warmer that I look forward to every year. Having lived in both the OC and IE, it’s nice to be able to have a little taste of IE Winter anywhere in SoCal. This hearty, wintery ale has a hint of San Bernardino Mountain’s Spruce Tips combined with a dash of Cinnamon and some Maple Syrup to produce a uniquely Hangar 24 Winter Warmer. Nothing like a taste of your Locale to get you feeling warm, toasty and at home. I wish this was a 4-pack like Hullabaloo…seriously though, if you see either of these offerings from Hangar, pick them up!
Port Brewing: Santa’s Little Helper, Imperial Stout
This is one rich, flavorful, but boozy Stout I pick up every year. Found it this year at Costco for under $7 and I never pass on something like that…sorry Yobo…
This year’s batch is a little more boozy and carbonated than last years, I’d consider this a bottle share beer as it seems to hold more than the 10% ABV listed on the label. Maybe you sit on this for a few months and it mellows a bit? For $6 or $7 it’s worth a shot…
Barley Forge Brewing Co.: Fugue State, Russian Imperial Stout (Aged in Bourbon Barrels)
This was BFBC’s First Anniversary Brew and my oh my, what a way to say Happy Anniversary. Another excellent edition to the local, yearly “Stout” scene. Had this on tap at the release in October and had a subsequent bottle which was a nicely executed, textbook example of a RIS, with that added Bourbon Flavor. If you can still find one, pick it up and sit on it until next Xmas, it should be smooth as silk by then…
Bottle Logic Brewing Co.: Darkstar November, Russian Imperial Stout (Aged in Bourbon Barrels)
One of the smoothest, easiest drinking Bourbon influenced beers on the market. I can’t speak to BC as I only drink craft beer, but this beer is a perfect gateway to enjoying the BBA movement. if you come across any year of this beer, BUY IT!
Hangar 24 Craft Brewery: Pugachev’s Cobra, Russian Imperial Stout (Aged in Bourbon Barrels)
The brew that enlightened me to the BBA movement, I have enjoyed this beer and faithfully bought at least one bottle, usually 3 or more, every year since 2012. If you want 1 bottle of beer to help you ring in the New Year, this is that beer. 2014’s release weighed in at over 18% ABV. 2015’s is a much lighter 13% ABV but either way any year of this beer is a fantastic beer experience that will push the envelope of what you or your non-beer drinking friends consider beer. Brewed with hints of Molasses, this is a sweet, sipper of a brew that if drank solo and with a bottle topper, can last you several hours…(obviously, i’ve been there and done that, well, one year…)
If you are looking for a beer that will win over liquour drinkers, this may very well be that beer. Hints of Chocolate and dark coffee flavors take a back seat to that Bourbon goodness. At $20 a bottle, this is not your every day beer, but it’s the perfect beer for a Special Occassion or a day of reflection, I’m still sitting on 2 bottles from 2014 and just picked up my 2015 bottles. (I liked last year’s more, but this years is still respectable, if, by some off chance, you come across the Royale variant, spend up to $100 for the bottle. You will not be disappointed…)
So there you have it folks, a veritable cornicopia of delicious “winter” brews that are sure to cure your Holiday thirst…
Each of these beers was purchased locally in or around Anaheim, California. Hopefully you can enjoy some of these tasty treats this Holiday Season. If you find something you like as a result of this post, please CONFESS here.
Thanks for reading and until next time,
Drink Good Beer, Craft Beer, Real Craft Beer!
Peace, Love, Beer†
Photo Credit: BrewFiend