6 Wisconsin beers that will keep you warm this winter
'Tis the season for stouts and other heavy beers
‘Tis the season for stouts and other heavy beers. Garth’s Brew Bar, a new open on Monroe Street, specializes in curated craft beer and has a few winter beers on offer that are sure to warm you up. Owner Garth Beyer is a certified cicerone, a credential that signifies a strong knowledge of beer quality and taste.
“I want people to come in and try something they’ve never tried before,” Beyer says.
Garth’s Brew Bar has 18 taps, with a cooler of 100 to 150 different bottles and cans of beer with a large portion from Madison and Wisconsin craft breweries.
When it comes to winter beers, Beyer says most people look for varieties with an alcohol by volume, or ABV, of 8% or greater. This is also the season when people will drink porters, stouts, barley wines, barrel-aged beers and Belgium-inspired beers like dubbel or quad beers, which will often have higher ABV. While holiday flavors like peppermint or eggnog are common, chocolate, nuts, dark fruit, vanilla, coffee and foraged ingredients like spruce tips also make appearances in winter beers.
The Beer: Unite the Clans
The Brewer: Third Space Brewing in Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Style of Beer: Scottish ale, 5.8% ABV
Tasting Notes: Toffee with “roasty and malty flavors and aromas”
Winter Warmer Qualities: Beyer says Unite the Clans is “one of the heavier [beers] that drinks like it’s light.”
The Beer: Sproose
The Brewer: Black Husky Brewing in Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Style of Beer: Double IPA, 8.6% ABV
Tasting Notes: Pine from the locally harvested spruce tips brewed in each batch
Winter Warmer Qualities: Beyer calls Sproose a “pine-lover’s dream come true.” Not only does it have a piney flavor, it also smells like a winter forest.
The Beer: Lost Camper
The Brewer: Door County Brewing Co. in Baileys Harbor, Wisconsin
Style of Beer: Helles Lager, 5.7% ABV
Tasting Notes: Citrus hops with a bready malt quality
Winter Warmer Qualities: “For those who love winter and want something easy to drink, lager is the way to go,” Beyer says. The can design is also reminiscent of winter.
The Beer: Brewer’s Reserve Bourbon Barrel Stout
The Brewer: Central Waters Brewing Co. in Amherst, Wisconsin
Style of Beer: Imperial stout, 10.5% ABV
Tasting Notes: With hints of bourbon and vanilla, this special release is the brewery’s most sought-after beer.
Winter Warmer Qualities: Since the Bourbon Barrel Stout is aged in oak bourbon barrels, it has roasted undertones and a high ABV.
The Beer: Dark Weizenbock
The Brewer: Giant Jones Brewing Co. in Madison, Wisconsin
Style of Beer: Weizenbock, 8.5% ABV
Tasting Notes: The initial taste is of cloves, but then transitions to a hint of banana.
Winter Warmer Qualities: All of Giant Jones’ beers have a high ABV (typically above 7%), and Dark Weizenbock is no different. But the cloves make this variety the brewery’s seasonal fall and winter weizenbock.
The Beer: Paid Time Off
The Brewer: 3 Sheeps Brewing Co. in Sheboygan, Wisconsin
Style of Beer: Imperial stout, 10% ABV
Tasting Notes: 3 Sheeps was inspired by candy bar flavors, so the beer is infused with toasted coconut, cocao nibs and walnuts.
Winter Warmer Qualities: Beyer says, “They might as well call the label a wrapper on this beer because it’s a festive candy bar in a bottle.” It also has a high ABV and tasting notes in line with common winter flavors.
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