HOME > Chowhound > Beer >


What seasonals are you drinking this winter?

My favorite month of the year is almost up. I really enjoyed the Paulaner Octoberfest. I could drink it all winter long but I just went to total wine and got the last three bottles on the shelf. Spatan Octoberfest was also very good. Sam's was lighter. Didn't care for Brooklyn's Post Road but liked their traditional Octoberfest brew. Did not like Leinenkugel's although the Sunset Wheat is my summer beer along with a few buckets of Sol. Sadly, I cannot get anymore of the october style Marzen's. I enjoy Trogges Troggenator Doublebock but am a little burned out of it. I don't mind Dunde's Honey something that I picked a 12-pack up of last week. It's an easy beer with a simple finish. I consistently try different beers based on suggestions of this board so I am interested to hear what's new or should be in the fridge when sitting around the chiminaya this winter. What should be avoided?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I generally can't wait for winter so i can get my hands on 12packs of Harpoon Winter Warmers. I've seen them recently and am planning on picking some up ASAP. I like to make a black and tan with the winterwarmers and float Guiness on top. Makes a sort of Gingerbread type of drink. I drink this regularly around the holidays so not it kind of remids me of them. Also, Winter is good for Scotch Ales- McCewens (sp?)- and got to love a 4 pack of Youngs Double Chocolate Stout in the winter and stouts in general. Guiness, Murphy's, and Beamish.

    1. Had my first 2008 Sierra Nevada Celebration ale last night, I was highly excited to see it on the shelf this early. It was better than I remembered it or I just haven't had a good ipa in a while. Usually don't see it in the stores until november.

      1. Looking forward as always to the Sierra Celebration...beautfully bitter and luscious. I distinctly remember it once being somewhat fuller bodied than in recent years, but it's still great.
        Definitely in agreement also on the Scotch Ales, it's a favorite style of mine and a direct opposite (bitterness-wise) from the IPAs and Sierra Celebration. Traquair House is, to me, the definition of a Scotch Ale...It has an amazing richness and complexity ...I wish it were'nt so expensive though.
        As far as commercially brewed winter warmers, there are a few I enjoy. I always liked Geary's and enjoy Samuel Smith's very much. I tend not to like the ones that have spices added to them...I would rather have a well aged, high gravity ale with a good amount of malty richness.
        I also managed to get three batches of home-made Winter Warmer brewed up back in April and May and look forward to tapping those in the coming months as well. I got a late start on them, but they should be pretty fine by the end of November.

        1. I start drinking really strong beers in the winter. Two of my favorites are Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout and Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine. Both are 10% ABV monsters that you can buy in 6 packs for very reasonable prices (around $11 this year). They're the perfect thing to warm you up on a cold winter day.

          5 Replies
          1. re: afty698

            BBCS is available now. Bigfoot arrives in Feb.

            1. re: Jim Dorsch

              I know! It made my day when I saw the Black Chocolate Stout in my local liquor store the other day.

              1. re: Jim Dorsch

                I have a few Bigfeet - :) - that I have had in the cellar for about 8 months. Just cracked one open and it tastes pretty much the same as it did 8 months ago. I think I'll let it go another year.

                Little. T

                1. re: Little T.

                  I recall hearing that the folks at the brewery like Bigfoot fresh, when the hop oils still coat the lips. have a hard time arguing with that viewpoint!

                  1. re: Jim Dorsch

                    I think that Bigfoot is brewed with that in mind, that is, drinking it fresh. The strength and hop level of the beer (along with the fact that it is alive in the bottle with yeast) contribute to its keeping qualities so it does keep quite well.
                    As much as I am VERY big on aged beers (especially big beers), I have to agree that Bigfoot really is probably at it's very best when it leaves the brewery. The mellowing out from cellaring the bottles doesn't hurt the brew, but like most beers made nowadays, I don't think Bigfoot is designed for aging beyond what it gets at the brewery. However you slice it though...it is great stuff. One of my all time favorites, and good year after year.

            2. Hacker Pshorr Octoberfest and Southern Tier Pumpkin so far have been my favs this month. Leines summer reminded me of fruity pebbles cereal. I am looking forward to the winter beers: the stouts made by Youngs, Rogue, and North Coast, the revitalization of all the trappist beers, and the Scaldis Noel is one of my fav. all time seasonals. Hope I can find it somewhere around town.

              1. Paulaner Oktoberfest is made year round, so you should be able to find it (or at least request it) at the better beer stores near you.

                1 Reply
                1. re: LStaff

                  Did a little research on this. If it is made year round, it's in Germany. You can't get it in the states until next Fall. Just picked up what was left of the BBCS at my local distributor

                2. 2008 Sierran Nevada Celebration just came out. Not quite as hoppy as last year, but a nice balanced drinkable beer that is still better than that first batch in 2006. I'll be drinking a few cases of this up until the holidays.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: LStaff

                    Celebration just got to Iowa (of course). Bottled on 10-28, so a little less than a month old. Picked up a case, all I could find, and I find it at least as hoppy as lasy year. It may just be a memory issue, cause there aren't many hoppy beers available here. It's getting better, but Celebration is still as good as it gets. Outstanding Beer.

                    1. re: Bobfrmia

                      that is a nice brew, if you get a chance, check out Anchor's Old Foghorn

                  2. Well, my favorite watering hole has Blue Point Octoberfest on tap.....and IMO its pretty good!

                    1. I have some Weyerbacher Winter Ale that my lovely girlfriend brought over. It's a nice but fairly light ale, not too hoppy (which isn't entirely a good thing). I think the Weyerbacher Double Simcoe IPA is a superb beer, so it's possible I was expecting too much. It's quite tasty though.

                      The last sixer she brought over was Heavy Seas Winter Storm, which was delightful. I think Clipper City Brewing makes some of the finest beer around, and I'm not saying that (entirely) because I'm a Baltimore boy. Their triple hopped Loose Cannon is still my favorite beer for everyday drinking. I'd definitely buy the Winter Storm again.

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: JonParker

                        I'll have too be on the lookout for the Weyerbacher Winter...sounds good to me, and a "not too hoppy" ale is not a bad thing at all.
                        Don't get me wrong...I have always enjoyed very hoppy beers (70 IBUs and more), but I fear my palate has become somewhat jaded. Seems now that every new American beer from the micro sector is focused on high hop rates as if that is what makes a quality beer, and it has become boring.
                        Always nice to discover a micro that can deliver a crisp, sharply hoppy ale on the one hand, but can also show their _real_ skill with another brew that is more malt accented and not hiding a lack of skill or a multitude of sins by masking it all under high hopping rates.

                        1. re: The Professor

                          Have you tried the Weyerbacher Double Simcoe? That's a very hoppy beer that's nevertheless smooth and drinkable. Probably too drinkable for its high ABV -- it can sneak up fast.

                          The Loose Cannon is a very hoppy beer, but it's hops done right. It's a delicious beer.

                          1. re: JonParker

                            The Double Simcoe falls right into the profs. category of, "hiding a lack of skill or a multitude of sins by masking it all under high hopping rates."

                        2. re: JonParker

                          I really like Clipper City brews too, and I can't understand why I don't see more of them sold in the DC area.

                          1. re: Doh

                            Clipper City beers have been showing up here in the the Metro Detroit region and I think they are very well done. Loose Cannon is one of my favorites, giving the local Two Hearted Ale by Bell's a run for it's money.

                        3. I had some Great Lakes Nosferatu, very tasty. Penn Oktoberfest is pretty good this year as well as the Victory Moonglow. I would recommend all three if you can get them.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Mr Siegal

                            We just had our first batch of Bell's Winter White last night. There ARE one or two benefits to living in Kalamazoo, deep in the heart of the rust belt!~ The Winter White is a nice Belgian-style mmmmmmmm.

                          2. I just picked up a six-pack of Great Divide's winter seasonal, Hibernation Ale. It's big, rich and excellent.

                            1. Scaldis Noel, N'ice Chouffe, St. Bernardus Christmas

                              1. Well, after a tour of Troegs Brewery in Harrisburg, my new sipping beer for the winter will be Mad Elf. While the name sounds silly, the beer is the real deal. 11% ABV with a nice red color, smooth finish with a mild hoppyness and somewhat unique spice, but without the heavy maltiness traditionally stronger beers have. A very cool beer that will sneak up on you and put you on your a$$. Unfortunately, Troegs is small and their distribution is limited to the NE US, PA and maybe Ohio.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: juice

                                  I just tried the Mad Elf last night. I was a little skeptical because of the cherries and honey (and red color of the beer), but it was excellent. The fruit and spices accentuated the flavor of the beer rather than overwhelm it. Great stuff.

                                  1. re: FlaHopper

                                    I would agree, Mad Elf is hands down my favorite winter beer. The ABV does catch up to you fast though. I want to get my hands on a second case and cellar it for next year.

                                2. Anchor's Holiday beer is always a good choice, it does well as an aging beer too, and I second the Scaldis Noel

                                  1. Myself, I am partial to the Black Chocolate Stout, and also enjoying some Backwoods Bastard from Founders this week. Had the Great Lakes Nosferatu for the first time recently as well, great stuff! I will be picking up some more of that for the cellar.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: GrueLurks

                                      Just had the Anchor holiday beer-boy was it tasty! You just need to let it warm up a little after you take it out of the refrigerator.
                                      I bought a bottle of the Mad Elf (2.99 for a 12oz bottle) I plan on having it with a roaring fire going in the backround, oh yeah, I have a gas fireplace, let me flip the switch and fire that baby up!

                                    2. Harpoon Winter Warmer, definitely. Geary's Winter Ale is usually good, although I haven't had any this season yet (been stuck in a Michelob Craft Pack rut--a very nice one, too.) Whatever Otter Creek is making for this winter should be good. Second the Young's chocolate stout. Geary's Hampshire Ale (now brewed year-round but always a winter thing to me); Red Hook Winterhook, which I haven't seen this year yet either; and Sam Adams Cranberry Lambic, which I don't believe is actually lambic, but I get a taste for it every winter. I saw Sam's Winter Lager at the supermarket this week, and I've always enjoyed that, though it doesn't really keep me warm.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Kinnexa

                                        I can't believe no one mentioned Deschutes Jubel. In better economic times, I've mailed ordered 1-2 cases and split them with a pal. I do love Celebration and can live w/just some Sierra this winter.

                                      2. Love the Allagash Grand Cru..and of course the Noche Buena with my Christmas tamales.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: Beach Chick

                                          I have not seen Noche Buena in many years in the east. I used to enjoy it.

                                        2. Moylan's White Christmas is once again very impressive. Last year it was a wit spiced with mace, cinnamon, ginger, coriander, orange peel, and this year it's a lager spiced the same way. Really tasty stuff, definitely worth trying.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: Josh

                                            While not an X mas beer, (Bell's) Third Coast Old Ale is great when the weather sucks.

                                          2. I just opened a case of Victory Hop Wallop. Really good this year. It was either the Victory or the Mad Elf but I decided to save some cash and potentially my liver. The Hop Wallop clocks in at 8.5%, while the Mad Elf is delicious all the same but 11 %. Be careful with both during this holiday season!

                                            1. We are drinking Alaskan and SIerra Nevada, and Anchor winter seasonals. I just lugged back in my suitcase a large Pannopot Grand Reserver and a Youngs Christmas Pudding Ale from my trip to Europe.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: gatun

                                                If anyone is in the Philly area, I recommend checking out Philadelphia Brewing Co.'s Philly'z Navidad. It's a black lager - smooth with a nice toffee/caramel flavor.

                                              2. I just picked up a six of Anchor Steam's Celebration last night. Would love to try some Ridgway Santas Butt Porter or Lump of Coal Stout but alas they don't distribute in Landshark land.

                                                9 Replies
                                                1. re: crewsweeper

                                                  Better check the label on that beer (altho', with the way some folks are mixing beers these days...)- "Anchor" is the name of a brewery, "Steam" is the name of one of their beers but "Celebration" is brewed by Sierra Nevada. The Anchor holiday seasonal is labeled "Our Special Ale" (often "OSA" among the beer geekery) but Anchor themselves will refer to it as "Christmas Ale" - http://www.anchorbrewing.com/beers/ch...

                                                  As for the Ridgeway beers, the importer, Shelton Bros. lists 4 Florida distributors (tho' they don't necessarily carry all the SB beers) - http://www.sheltonbrothers.com/distri...

                                                  1. re: JessKidden

                                                    The Anchor thing is kind of a pet peeve of mine. I can't count the number of times I've heard people make that mistake.

                                                    1. re: Josh

                                                      <g> Ya know, as I was typing that up,I thought, " Hey, this is starting to sound familiar--I think someone's said this before." I suppose it's an inevitable part of internet forums. I know over on Beer Advocate, I find myself "correcting" beer myths all the time. In fact, currently over there there's a thread about an internet "Beer Myth Exposed" article- and THAT article begins with the fake B. Franklyn quote about God and beer. (I didn't have to read further.) Both the BA thread and the article's comments go on to state a bunch of other myths as fact (did you know that all beer in America must be pasteurized? I read it on the internet.). Kinda amusing.

                                                      Anyway, re: "Anchor Steam"- Ever since you wrote that here, I've noted in my readings that there was, apparently, an era when the brewery did go by, or at least was called by others by, some form of that name. The ATF called it "Steam Brewing Co." in the 1976 publication "Breweries Authorized to Operate" and the FTC called it "Steam Beer Brewing Co." in a 1978 report. Even beer writers M. Jackson and W. Anderson were calling the company "Anchor Steam" in the 1970-early 80's. Another brewery reference book notes the "Anchor Steam" name for the period of 1961-77.

                                                      So, I wonder if it's just sloppy work on all their parts or did the brewery officially call itself "Steam" in the pre-Maytag days, and Fritz *gradually* dropped it from everything save the beer itself (perhaps related to his registering the term?) Either way, I doubt that people who currently use the term are doing it based on those 3 decade old usages.

                                                      1. re: JessKidden

                                                        As near as I can tell, it's always been either Anchor Brewery or Anchor Brewing Company in full form. It's usually abbreviated in conversation as simply "Anchor" and much of their early bar signage used a picture of an anchor combined with the words "steam beer."


                                                        1. re: SteveG

                                                          That's it? One source- a brief history of the company on its website? <g>

                                                          Along with the 5 sources I listed above (including two US gov't agencies) I've also noted (thanks to the weather in NJ, lots of time to kill indoors) that two other 1970's era US beer books call it "Steam Beer Brewery/Brewing Co." (ALL ABOUT BEER by John Porter 1975 and Weiner's TASTERS GUIDE TO BEER 1977). THE REGISTER OF US BREWERIES 1976 says that the company went by "Anchor Steam Beer Brewing Co." from 1959-on, etc.

                                                          Since the Anchor company of the 1960-70's did very little advertising or other promotions and didn't bottle until 1971 or so (thus, no labels) one would have to search their files I suppose for letterhead or such. The only photographic proof I have is a 1977 article in the NEW WEST magazine- "Tops of the Hops: The First New West Beer Test". Anchor Steam Beer won that taste test and the article features a slightly larger than life size reproduction of the Anchor Steam Beer bottle, circa 1977, (price listed at 67¢) the label of which clearly reads "Brewed and Bottled by Steam Beer Brewing Co., San Francisco...". Unfortunately, my scanner's down, but I intend to do a page for Anchor on my website in the near future.

                                                          1. re: JessKidden

                                                            Ahh, you're right: in chapter 6 of their online history,
                                                            http://www.anchorbrewing.com/brewery/... they have an animated gif of what appears to be the progression of their label over time, which says along the top edge, "Brewed and Bottled by Steam Beer Brewing Co., San Francisco..."

                                                            Wish this conversation had come up earlier, I might have actually gone to the Anchor Christmas party and asked them directly.

                                                        2. re: JessKidden

                                                          Thanks for the history on the name confusion. I've long held a memory of drinking "Anchor Steam Porter" in the days when craft beers were rare in the USA. And I've long wondered how I could so vividly misremember the name of the beer. Your history confirms that I didn't misremember, I just accepted a bit of a misnomer that was once commonly used.
                                                          Good to know I wasn't the only confused consumer.

                                                          1. re: juantanamera

                                                            Well, I rather doubt the porter was ever *labeled* "Anchor Steam Porter" but I could see it being called that by bars- as in "Anchor Steam's" Porter or maybe even an early tap handle... In addition, I've got a label, © 1974, from the Porter which says "Steam Brewing Co." but the beer is simply called "Anchor Porter".

                                                            I noticed that Anchor still occasionally use the "Anchor Steam" name for beers other than the "Steam Beer" - note the table tent in 10th photo in this Slide Show. http://www.anchorbrewing.com/beers/20... That "show", as well as the elsewhere on their website also shows that Anchor calls their holiday seasonal "Chistmas Ale" - some fussy folks will sometimes claim it can ONLY be called "Our Special Ale" or- "OSA".

                                                            You can see both the labels and also the table tent here:

                                                        3. re: Josh

                                                          Mea culpa!!! Wasn't exactly holding the bottle in my hand when I wrote this. Sheesshhh!!

                                                    2. The Bruery Partridge in a Pear Tree
                                                      Alesmith Yulesmith
                                                      Lost Abbey Gift of the Magi
                                                      Alpine Boris
                                                      Sierra Nevada Celebration

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. Is there a better season for good beer? I think not.

                                                        Some great ones listed but one's that just are now mainstays in my fridge (and speaking literally- currently in my hand):

                                                        SN Celebration
                                                        Old Fezziwig (gotta get the variety pack for that)
                                                        Mad Elf
                                                        Anchor Christmas
                                                        Goose Island Christmas
                                                        Dogfish Pangaea
                                                        Hair of the Dog Fred
                                                        Smuttynose Wheatwine


                                                        3 Replies
                                                        1. re: yankeefan

                                                          Sadly, Mad Elf is done for the season. Total Wine sold 200 cases and cannot get anymore. I asked my buddy who owns a restaurant to ask his distributor to find me a case but they are out as well. If you see it on the shelf, grab it. I found an errant case in a small package store in NE PA for $60. Ouch! The pain goes away after the first few sips.

                                                          1. re: juice

                                                            Just picked up a case of Sierra Nevada Celebration for $28.99 at a Price Club on LI. Tasty as usual! I have one more Mad Elf left and I will have it tonight by the fire. I think I paid 11.99 a six for it.

                                                            1. re: juice

                                                              Ahhhh...At last check, Liberty Bell in Allentown had some left, they actually had some from last year that they were going to sell as 'aged'. I don't know if this happened or not

                                                          2. Great Lakes Christmas Ale, Sam Adams Winter Lager, Thirsty Dog's Twelve Dogs of Christmas Ale, and Leinenkugel's Fireside Nut Brown have all been in and out of my refrigerator this season. I look forward to the GL Christmas Ale every year.

                                                            1. Had a couple of bottles of Full Sail's Wassail Winter Ale over the weekend.

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: crewsweeper

                                                                Had a Bourbon County Stout from Goose Island yesterday. Talk about extreme, what an experience! $19.99 for a four pack at a So. Ca. Bevmo. It's worth it.

                                                              2. Jess,

                                                                Now that I signed up I have forgotten what I was going to say -- probably some shallow, poorly organized comment about draft beer. What I really want to know is why all the beers I find in minikegs are either a light (color and taste such as Paulender Pils) beer or a beer that would have more character is it was not unnecessarily bitter? Can a person get a minikeg of something like Gulden Draak, Ayinger Celebrator, EKU28, Dundee Honey Brown, Snake River Vienna Styla Lager (if you haven't had this you should try it) , or Baltika 9 Extra Lager to name a few.

                                                                I like your posts and think you might be able to help me. I live in Louisville, KY but I am a Midhigan football fan -- yes, this was a tough year.

                                                                John Hodgin

                                                                2 Replies
                                                                1. re: john hodgin

                                                                  Just had a mini keg of Bells Two Hearted Ale for New years. It certainly isnt a lawn mower brew, but it has soem bitternes to it.

                                                                  1. re: john hodgin

                                                                    Not sure about Louisville, but theres a German gourmet store over here on the east coast that sells Ayinger product in mini kegs. So they are out there. And its not hard to find "substantial" beers in mini keg form these days I have found. Bell's is especially good at this as John notes.

                                                                  2. I keep going back to Shipyard's "Prelude".

                                                                    I first had it up in Maine - they are based in Portland with master brewer Alan Pugsley heading things up.

                                                                    But now I've found this year I can get it here in Florida at Total Wine. Good news!

                                                                    A rich amber ale that will keep you warm at 6.8%.

                                                                    1. Has anyone seen the Spanish Peaks Winter Cheer this year?

                                                                      I tried to last year and it was great. Perfect balance of malts and hops. Very smooth. More on the hoppy side (which I like).

                                                                      Little T.

                                                                      1. I always anticipate Sam Adams Winter Lager. Another good one is Harveys Christmas Ale. Both of those on draft rather than bottles. Tommyknocker Butt Head is also good. A personal favorite is Snake River Vienna Style Lager - my stepdaughter imports a 12-pak of this for me every year. We live in Indiana. She is great!

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: john hodgin

                                                                          Ramstein Winter Wheat Double Bock from High Point Brewery in New Jersey is delicious. 10% Alcohol. There is also an Ice Bock that checks in at around 13%. Double Platinum, which is a souped up version of their usual Blonde is also around 10% and just as tasty.

                                                                        2. Troeg's Nugget Nectar!! I look forward to this beer all year and it came out last week. you all better hurry if you hope to get some. it goes quick. 7.5 % and oh so deliciously hoppy and floral. it truly is marvelous and only about $35 a case

                                                                          1. Winter calls for anything from Québec delights Maudite, Fin du Monde or Saint Ambroise's Oatmeal Stout.. it's Canada, they should know something about winter drinking. If it's spice I'm after or it's a special occasion, Taieri George (Emerson's Brewery, Dunedin , NZ) is a wonderful winter warmer (brewed once a year for release in March, but sadly, only in NZ and select Aussie shops) and I'd drink Mr. Emerson's Old 95 all winter long if it were readily available. Waiting for the Northern Lights to appear and maybe I'll open the last one..

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: gallileo

                                                                              Those Unibroue offerings (Maudite and Fin du Monde, or the somewhat similar Trois Pistoles) are year-round, as is the McAuslan's St. Ambroise. A spicy Maudite is as refreshing on a hot summer day as it is warming on a cold winter one, and I've never seen these offered seasonally in Canada or the US. Sorry, just don't want to see these great beers sold short!

                                                                              There are, however, specifically winter-based offerings like Quelque Chose, a Unibroue beer with cherry notes that is meant to be warmed in a bain marie. Another excellent Canadian winter offering is Great Lakes (not to be confused with the similarly named Ohio company) Winter Ale. Comparing this to the much-beloved Sam Adams winter ale, and certainly to the Ohio Great Lakes one, it wins for complexity and balance. I wouldn't call it strong, but it makes the other two seem watery.

                                                                              McAuslan offers a barley wine, as does the Toronto-based Mill Street. Like their international counterparts, the barley wines benefit hugely from cellaring, so if you can get your hands on a 2006 Mill Street barley wine, you're in for a treat.