It's turning cool in Virginia now. Winter is still 6 weeks off, but we're getting hints of the upcoming season. I'm not a cold weather person really and I don't look forward to the turn in the weather. But there's an up side; all those wonderful winter beers are appearing on the shelves now. Through the warm months we enjoy crisp ales, IPAs and Hefe Weizens. The Oktoberfest and pumpkin beers typically associated with Fall have mostly come and gone by now. As the temperature starts to drop, our thoughts turn to "winter warmers" and spiced ales. Bock beers, Dopplebocks, Imperial Stouts, Old Ales fit the season perfectly. I've forgotten the simple pleasure of bundling up in a thick sweater with a good book and a snifter of a good Winter beer. Just the other evening I dug out a Clipper City Heavy Seas - Winter Storm ("Category 5" Ale) that has been in the refrigerator since last winter. The slight hop overlay on the malty sweetness hit the spot. We'd been out all evening working a Cub Scout fund raiser dinner and this was just the ticket to wind down with. When it was finished I really longed for another but alas, the cupboard was bare of that beer.
Blue & Gray Brewing Company has released it's Temporary Insanity Imperial Stout for this year. This Fall/Winter release is a very easy drinking Russian Imperial Stout. (Full review coming soon.) A bottle of this was in the "cache" I took over to a friend's house Saturday evening for a small gathering and it was very well received.
Not all the Winter beers are dark. Sierra Nevada Celebration will certainly brighten any Winter day and it's been hitting the shelves for a few weeks now. But generally we think of Winter beers as darker with higher alcohol content. Extreme hops give way to malts. ABV goes up providing some "winter warmth". So, what else am I looking forward to this fall and winter? Victory Moonglow Weizenbock is on the shelves now. I picked up some Tröegs Troegenator Double Bock the other day. Of course, we'll not forget to pick up more Aventinus too. Either of these Dopplebocks will warm the heart on a cool winter evening. I also have some Samichlaus Bier, another Dopplebock, stashed away for just the right evening.
Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout should be appearing on shelves very soon. I've already cracked into the stash of Black Chocolate Stout left from last winter. Great Divide Oak Aged Yeti Imperial Stout has year round availability, but it sure is suitable for winter sipping. We'll be sure to keep in on hand too. I'll certainly pick up more Clipper City Winter Storm when it shows up. Besides the Temporary Imperial Stout, Blue and Gray will have their Winter Spiced Ale after Thanksgiving to brighten up the holiday festivities. So many breweries release special beers around the holidays that there are always many, many choices for your holiday gatherings. Perhaps this year we'll do a "beers with elf labels" tasting. :-)
The more I think about the memories of all those winter beers, the more I look forward to getting reacquainted with the beers of winter. Perhaps the onset of cooler weather won't be so bad after all.