Winter Warmers and Christmas Ales

BritishWinterWarmerA seasonal subset of the British Old Ale / Strong Ale. These have additional fruit or spices and are produced mainly for consumption while sitting by a blazing fire. They usually have a bit more alcohol to support the deeper maltiness and extra flavors.

Spices may be nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, clove, bog myrtle, anise, cardamom, coriander, orange, ginger, bay leaves, or many other odd flavors including pine needles and candied fruits. Additional sugars are sometimes added such as brown sugar, Belgian candy sugar, molasses, treacle, etc.

Bob's Pick:

Logo-HopBackHop Back Pickled Santa - Salisbury, Wiltshire, England regional brewery - Lots of fruit, malt, and alcohol. 6%


Rare Gems:

Grainstore Winter Nip - Oakham, Rutland, England microbrewery - Mahogony almost-barley-wine with fruit and alcohol coming through strong. 7.3%

Main Street Rudolph's Revenge - Evansville, IN brewpub - Deeply complex. Belgian yeast and candy sugar give it a Tripel character. Dark Scottish malts. Nobel hops. Everything comes through in nuances. 9.5%

Logo-NorthCotswold-BlitzenNorth Cotswold Blitzen - Shipston-on-Stour, Warwickshire, England - Said to contain "everything that goes into a Christmas pudding except eggs, flour, and a sixpence". Very complex. Sultanas, plums, spices. 6.0%

Olde Swan Christmas Cracker - Dudley, Birmingham, England brewpub - Very strong with sharp edges. Brewery opened in 2001 and their barley wine has not had long enough to mature. Sold only at their tap house on Christmas day although sometimes also available at beer festivals.

RCH Santa Fe - West Hewish, Somerset, England - Brown porterish. Bittersweet. 7.3%

Titanic Wreckage - Stoke-On-Trent, Staffordshire, England - Incredibly complex fruity. Citric and nut notes. 7.2%

Widely Available (sometimes):

Logo-Anchor-OurSpecialAleAnchor Our Special Ale - San Francisco regional brewery - Each year Anchor produces a Winter Warmer with a different recipe. They are dated and suitable for laying down. 2004 was quite piney but other years run the gauntlet. 5 to 7%

BridgePort Ebenezer Ale - Portland, OR brewpub and regional brewery - Deep red. Plums, cherries, brown sugar, and some chocolate. 6.4%

Hitachino Nest New Year Celebration Ale - Ibaraki, Japan megabrewery - Orange, Nutmeg, Cinnamon, Vanilla. 9%

Young's Winter Warmer - Bedford, England megabrewer - Very dark red. Roasty. Raisins. Caramel. Example of pure cane sugar adding candy notes. 5%

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