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Top 10 beers for winter

As the nights draw in and the cold weather comes, drinking tastes change for many people, so here’s a look at some winter beers to enjoy.

As recently reported on, there have been concerns raised over a “beer jacket” myth, so this is not about drinking order to beat the cold. Instead cold weather can inspire new tastes, with seasonal beers taking centre stage.

Thanks to the craft beer boom many brewers, both large and small, release seasonal winter beers. These tend to be slightly more alcoholic than ‘usual’ beers and carry a more malty and complex flavour. Fruit and spice are often added to the brew as well, and these are generally darker beers.

Previously we have brought you a range of winter warmer cocktails, but now we put the spirits down, grab a spot by the fire and crack open a beer.

Click through the following pages for a selection of winter beers.

Innis and Gunn Winter Treacle Porter

Porter originated in London in the 18th century and is a well-hopped dark beer that is made using brown malt – an ideal base for a winter beer. This 7.4% abv Treacle Porter is a seasonal addition to the range offered by Scottish brewer Innis and Gunn and sees a “touch of treacle” added to the brew.

The brewer says that this helps, “helping to concoct a lingering, bitter-sweet taste and uncommon depth of flavour”. The beer has a rich maltiness and won a silver medal in the 2012 World Beer Championships and is said to work well with “roasted chestnuts, mature cheeses or rich fruit cake”.

Brooklyn Winter Ale

A beer from across the pond, although this beer is “based on the satisfying malty ales of blustery Scotland.” US craft brewer Brooklyn uses Scottish floor-malted Maris Otter malt in the beer, plus three other malts and American oats. The result is a 6.1% abv beer with “deep bread flavours and a full copper colour”.

The beer is said to an ideal partner for robust winter foods like stews and meats as well as cheese. And “should you enjoy a cigar in front of the fireplace, this beer will play along nicely.”

DeKoninck Winter Koninck

Brewed by Brouwerij De Koninck in Belgium, the Winter Koninck is a deep amber-coloured top-fermented dark winter ale. The beer, which is 6.5%, is released every November by the brewer and has a ruby red colour.

De Koninck Winter has twice the amount of caramel malt as the traditional De Koninck beer and strikes “a perfect balance between sweet and bitter and the burnt flavour of dark malt.”

Bartrams Brewery Comrade Bill Bartram’s EAISS

The first thing to get out of the way is that EAISS stands for, “Egalitarian Anti-Imperialist Soviet Stout”. Coming from Suffolk craft brewer Bartrams, this is a 6.9% winter beer with some very unusual ingredients. The company said the ingredients include: “The Blood Of The Bourgeoisie, The Sweat Of The Proletariat And The Tears Of The Capitalists.”

Soviet stout is another name given to Imperial stout, which generally stronger than traditional stout. This beer was also awarded the silver medal by Camra in its 2013 Champion Winter Beer of Britain competition.

Fuller’s Old Winter Ale

This winter offering comes from west London brewer Fuller’s and is described as a “rich warming winter ale” that is brewed to 4.8%. The seasonal and dark, old ale is sold in 500ml bottles and uses Crystal malts to give it a sweet and nutty character. This is then balanced with Target, Challenger and Northdown hops.

With a sweet nose, this is slightly more complex than Fuller’s traditional beer offering, which is what you should expect from a winter ale.

Samuel Adams Winter Lager

Another trip across to the US for a beer from the country’s leading craft brewer Samuel Adams, which is slightly unusual as it is a winter lager. This seasonal lager has the special ingredients of orange peel, ginger and cinnamon. It has a deep ruby brown colour and contains three different hops as well as four malts.

Brewed to 5.6% abv the beer is released by Samual Adams during November and December and is said to be “a wonderful way to enjoy the cold evenings that accompany the season.”

Cameron’s Winter Solstice

This winter offering is again released for November and December and is a 4.6% beer from Camerons Brewery in the north-east of England. This is a 100% British beer, using British malt and hop varieties that produce a “chestnut brown ale with a rich roasted flavour and fruity aroma.”

In 2003 the brewery set up a 10-barrel microbrewery at its main base in Hartlepool, which has helped to to work on and develop seasonal and guest beers like the Winter Solstice.

De Dolle Stille Nacht

De Dolle Brouwers are based in Belgium and beer has been brewed on its current site since 1835. The Stille Nacht (Silent Night) beer is brewed for Christmas and at 12% abv it is the strongest of the winter beers in this list. Boiled for five hours and brewed with pale malt and with “white candy sugar in the kettle”, there is a sweetness to this beer, which is balanced with Nugget hops and dry hopping.

With it being such a strong beer, it is one that can be aged if stored correctly and the brewer says if it is stored at 10°C then ageing “will not decrease the quality of this beer”.

Young’s Winter Warmer

Young’s (no relation) Winter Warmer comes from the Wells and Young brewery in Bedford and has previously been named champion cask beer and Gold Medal Winner at the Brewing Industry International Awards. Winter Warmer a 5% beer that is 100% malt brew, with Maris Otter and Crystal malt combining Fuggle and Golding hops. Young’s cane sugar mix is also added to the copper during the brewing process.

Ruby red in colour, the beer is almost red in bright light and has that complex fruity nose that is associated with all of these winter beers.

Elland Brewery 1872 Porter

And finally we have this beer from the Elland Brewery in Leeds, which was voted Camra’s 2013 Champion winter beer and then was named as the campaign’s Champion Beer of Britain. A dark porter ale the beer is brewed to 6.5% and has a rich, strong flavour, “of coffee and dark chocolate”.

The beer is made to an original 1872 porter recipe and when it was named as Camra’s champion, chair of the competition Colin Valentine said: “Elland 1872 Porter is a fantastic beer and a well deserved winner.”

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