Seasons Greetings, Holiday Beer!

Holidays are full of fun family get togethers, travel, great food, and of course, delicious brews. Since I'm most part of the country the weather cools off, many breweries decide to brew winter warmer beers. This style of beer is generally very malty and sweet, a favorite style for winter beer. The winter warmer is a big bodied beer with a big malt presence in moth flavor and aroma. The colors range from deep reds to an almost impenetrable pitch black. Hope aren't generally showcased in this beer style. However, before hops were a standard in beers many resorted to using spices. This particular style is great for adding spices, especially since it's consumed during the colder winter months along with the holidays. A perfect example of this is Sweetwater's Festive Ale. It's a big winter warmer spiced with mace, cinnamon, and nutmeg. The big malt presence provides a perfect foundation to accompany a bold spice presence. These beers tend to pair nicely at the Thanksgiving or Christmas table. 

There are many other beer styles that go hand in hand with the holiday season. Stouts are always a go to when the weather starts cooling down. Many breweries offer a variety of stouts, spiced, aged in barrels, you name it. Local Southbound Brewing Co's winter seasonal is a beer called Moonlight Drive. They teamed up with PERC Coffee to make a Imperial Coffee Stout. This beer has chocolate, roasted and caramel malts along with a delicate hop profile making it the perfect beer to add coffee to. When selecting a coffee variety, all of those beer flavors and characteristics were taken into consideration. The resulting beer is a perfectly balanced coffee stout, paired nicely with a cold morning and a winter fire. Check out this beer at its launch event called Tamp and Tap, hosted by Southern Pine Company, Perc Coffee, and Southbound Brewing Co. 

Another local company, Service Brewing Co recently launched an oyster stout called Lincoln's Gift. This is an American Stout with local oysters added to the brewing process. You may ask yourself why someone would do this, let us be the first to tell you that it's a perfect combination of roasted chocolate, salt, and brine. This is for sure another winter beer that goes great with holiday oyster roasts, seafood, and big Christmas dinners. The idea of creating big, bold stouts and offering them during these colder months arises from a natural trend, or stout season. 
 
Stout season (#stoutseason, a Founders Brewing term) begins to pick up in October and continues to peak through November. There is a brief dip in interest in December before January when it spikes again up until March. After March, everyone is ready for warm weather and therefore spring seasonal beers. Many beers fall into the stout season trends. Stouts, porters, dopplebocks, Belgian quadruples, and almost anything dark. There have been several studies on why people trend toward these beers during the colder months. Most have found people generally enjoy these beers because they offer more robust flavors, typically take a little longer to drink, and give a warming sensation (generally due to higher alcohol contents). When it's cold outside you already aren't moving too fast, are in need of some warming, and who doesn't already love those flavors?!  
 
In conclusion, while its still the season go out and find yourself a delicious winter warmer or dark beer. There are plenty of delicious offerings made locally, regionally and nation wide. Tis the season for holiday cheer! (beer) As always, support craft and support local.