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Outstanding Local Beers for the Holiday Season

Listen to your mother and never arrive empty handed.

Thanksgiving is winter’s official kickoff. Well, not technically, but it ushers the heavy foods and the heavy drinks, everything from after dinner cordials to winter warmer beers. So, as you relax by the fire thinking warm and happy thoughts, it’s time comforts of overindulgence.

These are the beers we'll be toasting with this season, ranging from spiced meal pairings to heavy and dark fireplace beers to something for all occasions, in no particular order.

Ominous Double Brown Ale

Bad Weather Brewing Company (St. Paul)

Info: 7.5% ABV, 40 IBU

Brown ales are pretty universal: a little sweet, easy to pair with food, and neither too light nor too dark for the average palate. This double brown is more robust, deeper in body and flavor, with all those same characteristics that make the style a hit. It’s got that winter ABV of 7.5%, but it’s a universal meal with a little extra focus on seasonality that separates it from the rest of its brown ale class.

How to have a snow-less snowstorm. Photo courtesy Schell's Facebook page

How to have a snow-less snowstorm. Photo courtesy Schell's Facebook page

Snowstorm 2015 Wallonian-style Brown Ale

August Schell Brewing Company (New Ulm)

Info: 6.2% ABV, IBU unlisted

Snowstorm is a Minnesota winter tradition on par with our unpredictable weather that varies from 50 degrees and sunny to about 100 degrees cooler. The 2015 version is a Belgian-influenced brown ale, with fruity esters of the region but a more dominant caramel malt flavor leading the charge. A hair on the sweet side, this beer is versatile for pairings and pitchers.

A crowler of Peanut Butter Porter says, "I love you enough when we're drinking." Photo by Dangerous Man Facebook page

A crowler of Peanut Butter Porter says, "I love you enough when we're drinking." Photo by Dangerous Man Facebook page

Peanut Butter Porter

Dangerous Man Brewing Company (Minneapolis)

Info: 5.3% ABC, 29 IBU

Is it possible that Peanut Butter has usurped the Milk Chocolate Stout throne at Dangerous Man? This legume-sweetened porter carried the comforting roasted notes of a porter but is offset by a creamy peanut butter complexion. Available only in the taproom, via pint or growler carryout from the new Growler Shop.

Old Friend Holiday Ale

Indeed Brewing Company (Minneapolis)

Info: 7.5% ABV, 16 IBU

Complex and unique, this beer turns the idea of dark fruit beer winter beers on its side, instead utilizing spice and honey to bring forward its roasted malts. Fresh ginger gives a desert-like but refreshing element while the honey subtly sweetens and gives a soft, pleasant mouthfeel.

Winter Ale

Summit Brewing Company (St. Paul)

Info: 6.2% ABV, 40 IBU

Malt leads this beer but with that unique winter arrangement of darker and spicy nuance. Hints of coffee, cocoa, and spices dance within this dark-ish beer that cleans out on a mild hop bite. A perfect beer for board games, cheese plates, and warming up after sledding with (or without) the kids.

With 100 breweries to choose from the lists can always be longer. Narrowly missing the cut were Fulton’s War and Peace coffee-infused imperial stout, Pryes Miraculum because it can’t be a beer list without an IPA (and it will pair well with turkey and ham), and Badger Hill Foundation stout, one of Minnesota’s finest dry stouts.