Hey everybody! I had a few people ask about a follow up to the Summer Beers post, so today we’re going to focus on another favorite drinking season of mine: Winter. In case you’re curious, here are the Official Staking the Plains Seasons for Drinking Ratings:
1 (tie ). Summer
1 (tie). Fall
1 (tie). Winter
1 (tie). Spring
I honestly look forward to winter mostly for the beer styles that start to pop up. I loathe being cold, but getting to drink a stout inside while you can feel the nipping frost just outside your window is almost as good as a crisp beer while in the pool. I was hoping to get this up earlier in the season, but it was hard for me to narrow down the list to a handful of beers. However, the good news is that this is right in time for your Super Bowl party, and I have it on the good authority of an agoraphobic rodent that winter is lasting longer this year.
Just like with the summer beers, all of these are brewed here in Texas and also OWNED by Texans; however, I lifted the “must be in a can for portability” restriction. I should also note that, while I tried to give a good cross-section, I’m not necessarily saying these are the best examples of each respective style. This list is more of a guide for branching out and trying something new.
ROCKET FUEL VIETNAMESE COFFEE PORTER – 8th Wonder (Houston)
This one has long been one of my favorites,and I’m excited that 8th Wonder finally started to sell it in stores. This legitimately smells like a cup of coffee, and I think you could probably drink it in the morning with no problem. Given that it’s Vietnamese coffee, you’ll find that it has just a hint of sweetness to it when you first sip it, which eventually gives way to a full, slightly malty taste that finishes with the coffee flavor. I don’t even like coffee and I drink this whenever I see it on tap. BONUS: 8th Wonder also makes a french toast variant of their altbier, and it’s one of the best one-two punches of beer in the world. Ho
CHIEF JUSTICE STOUT – Legal Draft (Arlington)
One of the newer breweries on the list, I was excited to Legal Draft if for no other reason than I love their theme. If you’re worried or intimidated by stouts, then this beer would be a good introduction for you. It’s incredibly mild for a stout, and very easy to drink. Not quite sessionable, but you could drink a few of these in one sitting and not have too many problems. What really makes this a good introductory stout is the very subtle hoppy flavor, which you don’t find too often in the style. If you’re looking to expand your horizons from just IPA’s, give this a spin. Also, the brewery is walking distance from Jerry World so you may find me here before the Baylor game next year.
NORTHBOUND 75 POBLANO ALE – Tupps (McKinney)
I’m a sucker for chile ales. I first had one in Fort Collins, CO on my way to grad school in Oregon and I now drink them whenever I see them. Which isn’t great, because most of them are bad! However, relatively new Tupps has made a pretty good entry into the field. Have you ever charred a bunch of peppers then put them in a paper bag to steam so the skins come off? That’s what the beer smells like, which is a great thing if you know what’s up. It pours a rich golden color, and it really does taste like roasted chiles have been steeped in a nice blonde ale (it will burn a little on the way down). The hallmark of a good chile beer? It leaves your lips tingling.
SUGAR & SPICE BARLEYWINE – Martin House (Fort Worth)
If you’ve never had a barleywine, just know this: don’t step to them lightly. Usually very high in ABV, a good barleywine will put you in a sleeper hold before you know it. Sugar & Spice is 12%, and it’s brewed with nutmeg, cinnamon, clove, and Mexican brown sugar. Honestly, I thought it tasted a bit like horchata. The alcohol is also light due to all of the flavors, which makes it especially dangerous. If you have any trepidation about trying a barleywine, you could do worse than having this be your first one. It’s definitely not the most indicative of the style, but I loved drinking this.
COFFEE PORTER – Real Ale (Blanco)
Here’s the difference between porters & stouts: porters are made with malted barley, and stouts are made with unmalted roasted barley. The roasting gives stouts a kind of built in coffee flavor, as well as a bit of extra body. Due to how similar they are, porters also pick up coffee notes pretty well, which is why this is the second coffee porter on the list. As far as flavors compare, the Real Ale version is much more mild than 8th Wonder’s, and doesn’t have the added sweetness to it. If Rocket Fuel is more of a Starbucks order, think of this as getting straight up black coffee.
SNICKERDOODLE ALE – Community (Dallas)
This beer was first brought to our attention by our handsome stalwart leader, Seth, when he retweeted a picture of it requesting somebody get it for him. I was finally able to try this, and my word. It tastes like a snickerdoodle cookie. If you’ve been to the State Fair recently, you may have seen the Funnel Cake Ale, also brewed by Community. For the Snickerdoodle Ale, it seems they perfected that formula, though I didn’t rim my glass with powdered sugar. It’s really hard to describe this beer, but I think you owe it to yourself to try one for dessert after a meal. You can’t have a 6 pack in one sitting without needing to see a dentist, probably, but it’s definitely worth a try
WHITE NOISE WITBIER – Saint Arnold (Houston)
Originally brewed for the Free Press Summer Fest here in Houston, Saint Arnold decided that they couldn’t waste such a good beer just on the drug addled music festival youngs. However, what was a perfect summer beer ALSO just so happened to be a fantastic option in the winter, replacing their delicious Winter Stout (RIP) in the seasonal rotation. White Noise is very citrusy with coriander, and goes great with some fresh clementines. Such a fantastic beer
DIVINE RESERVE 17 BALTIC PORTER – Saint Arnold (Houston)
I didn’t put this under the normal category as this is a special release and typically harder to find. However, St A has increased production on the Divine Reserve series, as well as their Bishops Barrel series, so these things are easier to find now. DR17 is a Baltic Porter, meaning it’s boozy, a little sweet, and very full. This will sound strange, but bear with me: this tastes like watching Deadliest Catch. It’s robust, starts out sweet, and ends a little bitter. You really feel like you’re about to strap on some rubber boots and go crabbing in the cold. I absolutely love it, it’s great. A perfect winter beer.