From winter warmers, stouts and holiday ales to barleywines, Scotch Ales and porters, there are plenty of distinctive beer styles to spend some time with this time of year. These styles offer plenty of hearty flavors to combat Buffalo’s cold winter weather including roasted malts and barley, chocolate, toasted marshmallow, caramel, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, coffee, licorice and star anise.
Whether you’re wrapping presents, roasting chestnuts on an open fire or hanging your stockings on the chimney with care, there really isn’t a bad time to imbibe one of these delicious styles of the season.
To make your life a little bit easier, here are five options that will make you the MVP of your next holiday bottle exchange.
Community Beer Works Heat Rays Barleywine: A beer that can warm your bones is essential this time of year, so consider CBW’s Heat Rays, my favorite locally produced barleywine. It features rich notes of caramel, booze, alcohol warmth and molasses. This beer will literally warm your heart.
[Related: Explore CBW's new taproom on 7th Street]
Flying Bison Brewing Winter Warmer: One of the lighter winter beers, Flying Bison’s Winter Warmer lands on the more sessionable side of things at 6 percent ABV. Expect a mix of winter spices (nutmeg, ginger, allspice), light malts and a slight dry finish. Perhaps the best part is that you don’t have to feel guilty reaching for another. See also: Flying Bison’s MacBison Scotch Ale.
42 North Brewing Red Army Russian Imperial Stout: This wouldn’t be a proper winter beer article without a good old-fashioned Russian imperial stout. Red Army runs the gamut of big, dark and bold beer flavors – coffee, dark fruit, chocolate, caramel and roast. It’s also dangerously smooth at 9 percent, so be careful while imbibing.
Thin Man Brewery Take Precaution Imperial Stout: Clocking in at 11 percent ABV, Take Precaution is a heavy hitter. This sipper is a suitable accompaniment to shoveling the driveway or sitting by the fire, thanks to its silky smooth combination of booze, chocolate, vanilla, marshmallow and oak. Like the name suggests, take precaution when drinking.
Big Ditch Brewing Bourbon Barrel-Aged Towpath Imperial Stout: As far as bourbon barrel-aged imperial stouts go, Towpath is a must-drink. Aged six months in Woodford Reserve barrels, the 2018 vintage of Towpath imparts flavors of vanilla, booze and warm, toasted s’mores. Grab a bottle (or two) and thank me later.
*Read more: 5 craft-beer trends catching on here and nationally.