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Winter brews to stave off the chill

November 30, 2018

I would make a Game of Thrones “winter is coming” reference here, but in Minnesota, winter is already here. Then fall, then summer-like weather, and then more snow and winter cold. But it seems like the ever-changing weather and temperature has finally agreed to settle on winter for the next five months.

The weather is bleak, but thankfully there’s beer. Seasonal beers released during these dark, trying times usually bring forth plenty of spice and cocoa, which can at least ameliorate the winter months.

Indeed Stir Crazy

While the beer was a little inconsistent after Indeed upscaled its brew house (a common hurdle), Stir Crazy is nearly back to its best this year. The Northeast Minneapolis brewery has a knack for crafting wonderful seasonal beers, like Yamma Jamma, which is a rare tap release. Stir Crazy brings together fig, brown sugar, chocolate, and vanilla into a can of pure holiday joy.

Lift Bridge Commander Barleywine

If you dive deeply into the beer nerd culture, you will eventually hear or see the phrase, “barleywine is life.” The beer style is, in fact, quite tasty. And what’s more fun is that you can drink a bottle from this year’s release and enjoy the caramel, raisin, slight cardamom, and malt-forward beer, or shop around for an aged bottle and see how the flavor profile has changed.

Alaskan Smoked Porter

A hint of smoked ham, pure smoke, chocolate, and a touch more unadulterated smoke make this one of my favorite winter beers. I’ve had it in warm weather and enjoyed it, sure. But it’s become an annual event to crack this open with my friend in front of a fireplace, and we’ve kept that tradition alive for seven years. This hearty elixir is fortifying during winter.

Summit Winter Ale

Everything Summit does is immaculate. That means the beer won’t have off-flavors, and if you liked Summit Winter Ale the last time you had it, the beer is going to taste exactly the same this year. Summit crafts perfection and offers a consistent product. Winter Ale has been around a long time but has staying power thanks to its toffee, biscuit, and earthy hop flavor profile. Plus, you can get this in a variety pack with three other beer styles.

Out soon…

Little Thistle Brewing has a winter ale on the way, featuring holiday-esque spices. Little Thistle has done well in its three months of operation. Its Wetlands hazy IPA has become a brewery staple, and head brewer and co-owner Steve Finnie will dump a bad batch of beer – if he ever makes one – before serving it.

Forager also plans to brew its holiday beer, Backdoor Santa. The beer is typically made with spices like ginger and clove, but it went for a funky vibe last winter. Head brewer and co-owner Austin Jevne loves experimenting, so this year’s holiday treat could be different from years past. Keep an eye out for other local breweries’ seasonal beers.

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