There are a handful of us in the dailymile community that are dedicated to our celebrating as much as our training. All year long we work hard but now that training cycles are coming to an end and we’re all raced out, we’re ready to play hard.
To help us get organized in our celebration efforts, Caleb, Brodie W. and I have put together a list of our favorite winter brews. The three of us come to the wold of beer running with different backgrounds, but we know our stuff. Caleb M. has been mentioned as being a breakout beer running in 2010. Brodie W. is more of a wine aficionado, but has been known to hold his own at the microbrew bar. And myself? Well, I did win a beer mile after all.
So her’s the deal, we each picked our top five winter brews and provided some tasting notes. We wrote the post so you can enjoy the beer — happy celebrating!
First up is Brodie W.‘s selections:
Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale
Tasting notes: Good ole faithful for this time of year. Little bitter but good hops. I really enjoyed drinking this from a tap but with other beers out there I leave this at number 5 on my list.
Samuel Adams Winter Lager
Tasting notes: I really think Sam Adams can’t go wrong. If you Sam’s, this is the perfect winter special beer with the hint of citrus and the normal “classic” winter beers. I tasted a little smoke but all and all the orange larger shins through.
Troegs The Mad Elf Ale
Tasting notes: If you like barely wine type beers this is your beer. Since the alcohol is so high, it has a sweeter taster. I admit, I am not a barely wine fan but this is an incredible sweet beer and you can tell they didn’t hold back the cherries and honey. BTW, one is all it takes!
Samuel Adams Chocolate Bock
Tasting notes: This made it to #2 on my list because it was the biggest shock to me. I thought “chocolate beer, seriously?” When the beer hit your lips, the blend of the chocolate flavor and beer heaven was a perfect balance. I was nothing but impressed.
Schlafly Christmas Ale
Tasting notes: Hands down the best beer on the market, easy to drink, great winter flavors of orange and spices. I am going back to buy more because the flavor blends so well with whatever you want to eat. Hops are light but the flavor is amazing.
Next up is Caleb M.
Terrapin Beer Company Moo Hoo Chocolate Milk Stout
Tasting notes: This is my new favorite from my local microbrewery. Chocolate is used both in the primary fermentation as well as the aging of the beer, imparting a smoothness to the overall profile and mocha afternotes. Not only does Moo Hoo warm your belly on a cold winter night, but it also has taken a place of honor as my lucky pre-race beer by powering me to a 5k PR this month. I’ll be drinking this beer all winter long, until it’s no longer available in stores.
Sierra Nevada Celebration (R) Ale
Tasting notes: I’ve enjoyed this beer the most around the holidays over the years. It has the typical spicy flavor of a winter/holiday beer, but it’s also dry-hopped, which brings a wonderful floral aroma and taste profile. It pairs well with Christmas dinner just as it does with any sort of food served at office parties from ors devours to sugar cookies.
Magic Hat Howl Black-as-Night Winter Lager
Tasting notes: A nod goes to the best brewery in my home state, Vermont, with this pick. Howl celebrates the darkness of the winter solstice with a black lager that brings malty sweetness and coffee-like afternotes. In Magic Hat’s own words: “Born of dark and cold and snow in the marrow of the northeast’s longest night, HOWL comes in on wailing winds with winter-weary eyes burning holes in sunless shadows. In its darkened depths out inner voids are warmed.”
Ommegang Abbey Ale
Tasting notes: Ever wondered what a (good tasting) fruit cake in a bottle with an alcoholic punch tastes like? Give this old-school abbey ale a try. This rare treat comes in a large bottle and packs an 8.5% ABV punch, so share with friends or be prepared to put your feet up and fall asleep (happily) by the fire.
Redstone Meadery Black Raspberry Nectar
Tasting notes: A mead is a little out of left field for winter drinking, but this delicious drink will have you daydreaming of warmer months with its strong honey flavor mixed with fruit. Coming in 750 mL bottles, it’s best to go on a group run, open a bottle, and enjoy this carbonated mead while dinner warms in the oven.
And finally myself, Brodie B.
Capital Brewery- Winter Skal – Middleton, WI
Tasting notes: This is my first winter beer choice by far. The next 4 are in no particular order but this sits on top for sure. I used to brew this beer when I worked for Capital so it is a very favorite winter beer! It is a lager with a dark amber color so expect a dry finish over an ale. Hop character comes to the front of this beer but settles away quickly to a warming caramel malt flavor. This is a post run soothing beer after a very cold outing.
New Belgium- 2 Below Ale
Tasting notes: I’m not a hop head but this beer hits home. It is probably the hoppier of the winter beers on my list and they don’t go away after the beers done. Burps are going to remind you of this beer for a while past the last one. The hop notes although powerful are well balanced a good citrus blend leaning on the side of grapefruit. There isn’t the warm malty character I come to expect from a winter brew as much as the others but there is an emotional tie to drinking a 2 below in the dead of winter. I’d save this beer for after a run as the hop notes could haunt you all the way through the last .2
Great Lakes Brewing Company – Christmas Ale
Tasting notes: I normally shy away from beers with spices added to them but the first time I tried this holiday beer I was impressed with its balance. The ginger and cinnamon didn’t over power the malt bill that went into this brew and we all know cinnamon in even small quantities can come to the front of any beverage or dish. They are there but balanced well. The hop character rides in the sidecar of the full malt flavor. It’s there but it’s tucked away and knows just when to pop up and greet you. This would make a good pre-run night before beer as it sits very well and leaves you in a good winter spirit.
Lake Louie- Tommy’s Porter (or any “good” Porter)
Tasting notes: It may not be a seasonal but the roasty character of a good Porter is sure to make any beer drinker warm and fuzzy inside all winter long. Tommy’s Porter does it the best I’ve ever had. It is a tiny little brewery in Arena, WI (population 685). Dark enough to make a stocking full of coal jealous, this beer is the gift that keeps on giving. Roasty, toasty, perfect carbonation and a kiss of the right hops leaves you wondering why you didn’t name your dog Porter as well. Enjoy this beer whenever you damn well please. Before, after or during a run! Hell, have 3.
New Glarus- Back Forty Bock
Tasting notes: This is new to my list this year. It is newer to the area and I am impressed with the flavor and character of the beer. It is nothing special but a good blend of malt and hops. The hops take a back seat as the malt flavor tickles you all the way down. I like the way the they describe the beer online “without pretense or explanation”. It is a dark bock which just fills the winter months with joy. It won’t leave you as warm as some other winter beers but it will leave you with a smile. This would be a good night before a race beer as it won’t stick with you but it will help you sleep well.
*NOTE: All our beer testers are over 21 on or before December 1, 2002
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