Winter seasonals showcase sweet malt flavors

Holiday cocktails aren’t the only beverages getting sprinkled with cinnamon and nutmeg this time of year. Winter beers highlight flavors of the season like allspice, spruce, vanilla, chocolate and gingerbread, complementing many of our favorite holiday dishes.

From stouts to brown ales, barleywine-style ales and even white IPAs, there’s something for every palate. And while coffee beers are nothing new, we’re seeing the popularity of cold brew coffee having more of an influence on the craft beer scene this year. Some of the local varieties we found are really pushing flavors and showcasing new ingredients. And luckily, they’ve made their way back to shelves just in time for us to enjoy.

Holiday Ale
Two Roads Brewing Company
Stratford, Conn.
7.3% ABV
Flavor profile: Caramel, toffee, allspice
Available at Kappy’s Liquors, 175 Andover St., Peabody
$9.49 for a four-pack of 12 oz. bottles
Inspired by the Biere de Noel style, which translates as “Christmas Beer,” this amber ale is released in mid-November and is only available for the few weeks leading up to Christmas. It has a deep malt flavor with notes of toasted caramel, nutmeg and plum and pairs well with slow-roasted and seared foods.


Stone Brewing Escondido, Calif.
8.1% ABV
Flavor profile: Cinnamon, cocoa, coffee
Available at Whole Foods Market at MarketStreet, 100 Market St., Lynnfield
$2.99 for a 12 oz. bottle
This winter-spiced, semisweet mocha stout is layered with cocoa, coffee, pasilla peppers, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg. A delicious take on Mexican hot chocolate, it was first brewed in 2014 as a result of the company’s annual homebrew competition. Due to fan demand, this winning recipe has gone from being a one-time offering to a yearly tradition.


UFO Winter Blonde
Harpoon Brewery Boston
4.9% ABV
Flavor profile: Chocolate, vanilla, coffee
Available at Nasty Nonni’s Wine & Spirits, 32 Main St., Saugus
$9.45 for a six-pack of 12 oz. bottles
New this year, and only available in November and December, this unfiltered vanilla cold brew ale balances a subtle vanilla sweetness with a hint of cold brew coffee. Hazy and golden in color, it’s a refreshing unfiltered wheat beer, paired well with sweets such as shortbread cookies or chocolate pastries. It follows in the footsteps of Harpoon’s popular Winter Warmer, one of the country’s first seasonal beers.


Hopflake White IPA
The Boston Beer Company (Samuel Adams)
6% ABV
Flavor profile: Pine, lemongrass, honey
Available at Lynnway Liquors, 702 Lynnway, Lynn
$15.79 for a 12-pack of 12 oz. bottles of six varieties
A new addition to this year’s Sam Adams winter classics, this wheat IPA is lively and bright. It’s light golden with a distinct floral and honey aroma. Bold, citrusy hops and a slightly sweet maltiness make it an easy-drinking, yet full-flavored brew, complementing flavorful, spicy dishes. In this year’s variety pack you’ll also find the new Ginger Beer, the traditional Boston Lager and Winter Lager and two former favorites—Old Fezziwig Ale and Chocolate Bock.


Berkshire Brewing Company South Deerfield, Mass.
6.3% ABV
Flavor profile: Caramel, cinnamon, fruit
Available at Kappy’s Liquors, 175 Andover St., Peabody $6.99 for a 22 oz. bottle
A barleywine-style ale brewed just in time for the holidays, Berkshire’s Holidale features a unique recipe each year. Available Thanksgiving through New Year’s, expect a strong ale with sweet caramel and fruit flavors peeking up from the dark hue. Malt flavors vary but typically include hints of plum, chocolate, molasses, coffee and vanilla bean and pair well with strong cheeses or rich, sweet chocolate and caramel desserts.


Photos: Spenser Hasak

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