When the temps drop, some people crave the warmth of a cup of hot chocolate in their hands. We think about warming up from the inside-out, with a tall glass of local brew specially concocted for the season.
Boulder County has some of the world’s top breweries, and they’re always coming up with new ways to enjoy beer. We look forward to the temporary seasonal beers, designed to complement the temperature, mood and pace of the different times of year in Colorado.
Here are some of our favorite locally brewed seasonal beers for winter 2018:
Wild Woods Brewery: Wild Woods’ new winter beer, just tapped mid-January, is the Imperial Amaretto Porter, “a rich, dark ale aged on almonds and apricot pits, both commonly used to make amaretto liqueur,” the brewery describes. This brew is smooth and nutty and a great kick-off to Wild Woods’ annual month-long event, Frozen February. This event is a month-long celebration of imperial, barrel-aged and winter seasonal beers.
This is the third year; the first two were a huge hit. During Frozen February, Wild Woods features weekly beer releases, live music, beer and chocolate pairings and specialty glassware. The goal: to embrace the dead of winter and warm Boulder up with stronger-style beers.
Wibby Brewery: Try the Moondoor Dunkel, a Great American Beer Festival silver medal winner (2017), or the seasonal Double Dunkel.
Try the 5.5 percent alcohol Moondoor on tap and prepare for a dark, European-style lager with a supple chocolate roast taste.
“The Moondoor Dunkel is the perfect winter seasonal because it starts off with all the roasty, malty flavors you’d expect a dark beer to have, but it finishes nice and light as a lager should. The cacao nibs used in the brew along with the heavy dose of chocolate malt set the tone on this easy finishing, award-winning classic,” says Ted Risk, co-founder.
Double Dunkel is a bit stronger (7.5 percent alcohol by volume), but it’s still totally smooth. Wibby describes it as an imperial dunkel brewed with cacao nibs, chocolate malt and Madagascar vanilla beans. It’s no surprise that this tasty brew is one of Wibby’s most popular seasonal beers every year.
Sanitas Brewing: Sanitas just released Cinilla Stout, a wonderful winter beer due to its smooth, dark-stout aged taste, accented by organic cinnamon sticks and vanilla beans. “Roasty malt undertones reminiscent of bakers chocolate melt into the spiced notes of warm snickerdoodle cookies,” as the brewery describes it. Cookies and cinnamon and spice? Wrap us up in a blanket by the fire and give us a bottle of this stuff, please and thanks.
Upslope Brewing: Upslope has several delicious winter beers. Its current winter limited release is the Oatmeal Stout, released in December and available through the end of February or until it runs out. This flavorful and rich stout is brewed with oats, roasted malts and hops, and its flavors feel like cocoa and caramel, with a dash of fruit. It won a bronze medal at the Great American Beer Fest’s Pro-Am Competition in 2013. It’s 5 percent alcohol by volume, so not too strong but enough to warm you up for sure.
300 Suns Brewing: Head over to 300 Suns for the Sol-Shine English Barleywine (8 percent alcohol) and the Sunscorched Smoked Porter (5.7 percent alcohol); 300 Suns described this one as “like sitting around the campfire on a cool Colorado evening.” What does that taste like? Well, a bit of smokiness, of course. Hints of pine. Throw in some malt and you’ve got yourself an oh-so-Boulder winter beverage.
Another popular winter beer at 300 Suns is the Old Burlington Stout (imagine hints of coffee and dark chocolate) and Salted Toffee Imperial Brown Ale (oh, heavens, yes). The latter is better than most desserts, with both sweet (vanilla and malt) and salty (sea salt) flavors.
Boulder Beer Co: For winter, Boulder Beer is serving up its Irish Blessing Oak-Aged Coffee Stout (6.2 percent), only recently tapped on CO2 and nitro draft on Jan. 17 at both pubs. Stout is a filling, warming beer for winter, and this one is brewed with plenty of black and chocolate malts. Boulder Beer worked with local coffee roasters, Ozo Coffee, to pick out the perfect coffee to add into the brew. It’s then aged on Irish whiskey-soaked oak chips, adding a finish of whiskey and woodsiness. Try this doubly local beer through March.
Left Hand Brewing: Chai is the perfect winter beverage, so why not blend it with a milk stout? That’s what Left Hand did. This super popular beer (5 percent alcohol) is smooth, spicy and comforting. Another delicious seasonal is the Hard Wired Nitro, a smooth coffee porter (6 percent) made in collaboration with Allegro Coffee Co.
Note: January and February are an off time for Left Hand, because its winter seasonals (like Fade to Black and Wake Up Dead Nitro) are winding down, while new beers are gearing up to come out in February through April.
Post Brewing Co.: Brewer Nick Tedeschi recommends the Ski Tan, a hoppy red lager that’s 5.4 percent alcohol by volume.
Asher Brewing: For the tail end of winter, Asher still has its Maceo Barker Oatmeal Stout, the Cafe Kolsch and its favorite spiced seasonal, the Ginger Bomb (6 percent), an ale with a dash of organic ginger. Don’t be intimidated by the name. There’s not too much ginger here, and it’s balanced out with sweetness and brightness. Plus, ginger is great for your health during flu season, so call this a health food. We won’t argue.