15 Jan Beat the winter blues with these boozy high ABV beers
Quick: what’s the best thing about winter? If you said snow, sledding, or bundling up in an assortment of scarves, hats, and coats, move along. It was a trick question – winter is horrible. There is one thing and one thing only that redeems this time of year, and that is the feeling you get when you come inside and you can’t feel your face and it’s dark at 4:30 in the afternoon, but you have a fridge full of high-gravity bombers to get you through the long cold night.
Breweries know that now, the winter of our discontent, is the perfect time to put out their booziest offerings. Beard Tax is warming our hearts (and beards, I guess) at Black Acre, MashCraft is breaking out the Imperial IPA, andIndiana City tapped Beast of Laurey’s to do battle with the winter doldrums. Any of these beers would put you in the running for the heavyweight title, and they’re just scratching the surface of the stronger seasonal offerings around town. Strap in and line up your DD as we explore beers at the higher end of the ABV spectrum this winter.
I’ve asked Writing Community member Ross Hughes and Managing Editor Adam Schick to contribute some of their favorite boozy beers too. Let us know what you think!
Over the past few months I’ve been slowly ramping up my appreciation for Belgian beer styles. One that I’ve found a particular affinity for is the dark strong ale (also known as Quads/Quadrupels). These beers have a wonderful malt-richness, smooth alcohol warmth and a dark, dried fruit yeast profile. Trappistes Rochefort 10 has to be one of my favorites and embodies everything great about the style.
Quads have also become a personal favorite because they age really well, becoming more complex as the years go-by and would be a great cellar candidate for the beer collectors out there.
Along with Belgian Quads, Barley wines are also a staple for those cold days. These are rich, full beers that can have an almost chewy mouthfeel. The American versions tend to have more of a hop presence (A pretty good rule in general, I’d say) and Three Floyds’s Behemoth is a great example of that. It’s a seasonal release so i’ll definitely be on the lookout for it in the upcoming weeks.
For something that’s more widely available, it’s hard to go wrong with Sierra Nevada’s Bigfoot Ale. It comes in a 4-pack, which is great for drinking a few now and cellaring a few for later.
I’ve certainly sampled a variety of barrel aged stouts over the years but the one that always comes to mind is Bourbon County Brand Stout. We live in an age where there is a lot of hyperbole surrounding certain groups of beers but Bourbon County always seems to deliver.
Winter is stout season, but I like to go against the grain and save my big, hopped up, double-digit percent IPAs for those dark and snowy days. Kind of like wearing Hawaiian shirts in December: if you want it to be warm, all you need is to adjust the way you think! My favorite is 3 Floyd’s Arctic Panzer Wolf, a 9% IPA with lots of citrus and (a flavor I’ve noticed more of recently) some white wine aromas. This is a gnarly beer, much like everything else 3 Floyds makes. It’ll definitely do the trick when it’s dreary outside.
Another boozy IPA I absolutely love is Upland Brewing’s Coastbuster. First brewed as part of the brewery’s Side Trail Series, Coastbuster broke into yearly rotation for one obvious reason: it’s so damn good. Fruity, floral, and dank, this 8.5% IPA is usually found in my fridge or in my glass. This does not last long in my home.
You can never go wrong with the offerings from Bare Hands, and that sentiment holds especially true for their Double ThaIPA. It’s everything great about their flagship ThaIPA, with all those beautiful lemongrass and kafir lemon flavors cranked up to 11. Thai food and curry flavors are awesome this time of year, and this beer is no exception. At a hearty 10% it would be a welcomed addition to your lineup.