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Craft Beer Selections: Winter Six-Pack

Winter is officially upon us! If you’re like me, you’re struggling to find the upsides of sub-30 degree weather, slippery roads, and shouting expletives at the bitter cold every time you step outside.

What better to find solace in than a dark & thick winter beer? With #StoutSzn approaching, it’s time to stack up on craft selections before the wannabe-craft drinkers clean the liquor stores out of the good stuff.

In this edition of Craft Beer Selections, I give my suggestions for six beers that you can find in the Northeast this winter.

Like what you see? Have a suggestion to add? Leave a comment below.

Espressway – Two Roads Brewing Company (Stratford, CT)

  • Style: Coffee Stout

  • ABV: 6.5%

  • Canned and distributed nationally

PHOTO: John Shyloski

All the rage is over “cold brew” coffee right now, but Two Roads has a legitimate claim to be the first New England brewery to dabble with beer steeped in cold brew. It’s essentially an oatmeal stout that’s pressurized in a device with a rare blend of coffee beans, and then steeped at a cold temperature for a few days. I love coffee, so I love this – it’s bold, but not too strong that you’re wired for hours. Two Roads is pretty much available everywhere that beer is sold, so odds are your local liquor store has this in stock regardless of where you live.

Maple Breakfast Stout – 14th Star Brewing Company (Saint Albans, VT)

  • Style: Coffee Stout

  • ABV: 6.5%

  • Canned and distributed nationally, available on tap at most Northeast restaurants & bars

PHOTO: Beer Awareness

Can you think of anything more Vermont than maple syrup, cold brew coffee, and beer?! 14th Star, one of the Green Mountain State’s most popular brewing companies, endeavored on the cold brew-steeped beer, too…and it’s a big hit. The coffee flavor is certainly the most forward, and then I’m tasting chocolate, caramel, and sweet toffee to finish. A must-have at any restaurant when you see it.

Granola Brown Ale – Black Hog Brewing Company (Oxford, CT)

  • Style: Brown Ale

  • ABV: 5.7%

  • Canned and distributed regionally, available on tap at most Northeast restaurants & bars

PHOTO: Black Hog Brewing Co.

When done right, brown ales are so versatile; you can drink them any time of year, and not feel like you’re disrespecting the craft. Make no mistake, Granola Brown by Black Hog is a top-tier brown ale. Very smooth in mouthfeel, I taste a caramel or chocolate backbone. While I certainly prefer this in winter months, no one will judge you for cracking it open on a warm August or September day.

Peanut Butter Raincloud – Foolproof Brewing Company (Pawtucket, RI)

  • Style: Porter

  • ABV: 5.4%

  • Canned and distributed regionally, available on tap at most Northeast restaurants & bars

PHOTO: Hoppy Boston

After college, I realized I’d gain about 300 pounds if I kept pounding the milk stouts, imperials, and doubles. Naturally, porters seemed like the happy medium – the rich taste of a dark beer with the light texture of an ale – and I wasn’t disappointed whatsoever with a spin on Foolproof’s signature beer. Peanut Butter Raincloud is not overwhelming whatsoever; some interpret this as being too bland, but I taste a very simple and easy-to-drink light winter beer. A great start for someone who isn’t too keen on the sweets.

Winter Coat – Moustache Brewing Company (Riverhead, NY)

  • Style: Winter Warmer (Spiced Ale)

  • ABV: 7.0%

  • Canned and distributed regionally

PHOTO: UnTappd

Winter Warmers are nothing short of fascinating to me. UnTappd describes this rare style as a “traditional malty-sweet strong ale,” which doesn’t really clear up exactly what you’re drinking. I like to think of a winter warmer as a heavy red-ale that’s generously spiced, and that’s exactly what we’re tasting with Winter Coat. Moustache Brewing Company – a must-go if you’re on Long Island – brews this with nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, ginger, and a hint of clementine to create the perfect blend of winter flavors. This may be a bit harder to find than the others on this list, but if you can get your hands on Winter Coat, you must.

Half & Half – Barrier Brewing Company (Oceanside, NY), collaboration with Other Half Brewing Company (Brooklyn, NY)

  • Style: Imperial/Double Milk Stout

  • ABV: 8.8%

  • Canned and distributed regionally

PHOTO: UnTappd

Who doesn't love a winter collab? Barrier Brewing Company teams up with Other Half, creating the perfect duo of New York-based microbrews. Half & Half is quite the literal explanation - it's 50% contributions from each brewery, but also 50% Ethiopian coffee beans and 50% lactose. It's the perfect coffee pun! The sweetest of the beers we've highlighted today, it appears jet-black out of the can but presents with notes of vanilla sweet cream from the first couple of sips. The lactose certainly helps to create a thickened texture, perfect to pair with any chocolatey dessert.

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