Barley, Malt & Hops: Seasonal Winter Beers on Tap

By: Toni Cunningham | December 5, 2013

After a chilly day of dashing through the snow, sometimes you want to cuddle up next to a toasty fire and enjoy a cup of hot cocoa to warm your bones. However, can you guess what would make this scenario just slightly better? Swapping that hot chocolate for an ice-cold winter lager. Enjoying it by the fireside will warm you from the inside out!

Local breweries tap winter beers and sell them by the six-pack before the first snowfall. Unlike other seasonals, these are heartier and spicier than most. It’s going to be a long (and brisk) winter, so you might as well enjoy these while they’re available:

Jolly Pumpkin Brewery, 311 S. Main St., Ann Arbor

  • Noel de Calabaza is a malty seasonal released in December, with notes of fig, raisin, rum truffles and sugar plums (not of the fairy variety).

  • Madrugada Obscura “Dark Dawn” is a malty and hoppy beer that’s “as dark as a moonless midnight.” It will be released in January.

Bell’s Brewery, 8938 Krum Ave., Galesburg

  • Winter White Ale is Bell’s signature winter offering, and it’s lighter than typical winter lagers. Should you seek a flavorful malt ale with a fruity aroma, you’ll want to pick up this six-pack.

  • Christmas Ale is worthy of sipping at the holiday dinner table. It contains no spices, and is crafted with barley and hops grown in Michigan. If you’re looking for a way to go local this holiday season, this is it!

Atwater Brewery, 237 Joseph Campau St., Detroit

  • Winter Bock is a high gravity German bock beer brewed with malt and hops. It’s both malty and sweet, and has a slightly higher alcohol content.

  • Should you have a holiday party (or two) to attend, consider bringing along the Atwater Holiday Party 12-Pack. It contains a variety of Atwater specialties, like Vanilla Java Porter, Dirty Blonde, Grand Circus IPA, Cherry Stout, Winter Bock and Voodoo Vator.

Arbor Brewing Company, 114 E. Washington St., Ann Arbor

  • Figjam Quadruple is an acronym and a nickname for a celebrity (Google it), but it’s also a holiday lager bursting with dried fruit flavors. Forget the figgy pudding, drink the figgy alcohol.

  • Mr. Delicious is a double IPA full of citrus hops and bread-like malts. Don’t know what bread-like beer tastes like? There’s only one way to find out. It’s the perfect pairing for winter’s best foods: meat and potatoes.

Short’s Brewing Company, 121 N. Bridge St., Bellaire

  • Good Humans is a dry double brown ale with notes of toasted caramel and toffee. You had me at caramel. Get it while you can! It’s available now through January.

Liberty Street Brewing Company, 149 W. Liberty St., Plymouth

  • This brewery gets high marks in my book. Why? Because it’s one of few locations where you can find pumpkin infused beer after the 31st of October. Punkin’ Ale is Liberty Street’s fall and winter release, and it’s available through February.

Griffin Claw Brewing Company, 575 S. Eton St., Birmingham

  • Griffin Claw wins the “most clever holiday pun worked into a beer name” award for its Three Scrooges winter ale. It’s brewed with orange peel, spices and honey, and is on tap now.

New Holland Brewing Company, 66 E. 8th St., Holland

  • Cabin Fever is a brown ale that’s available through February. It’s a hearty beer that stands up to equally strong dishes like stew and roasted meats. With this in the fridge and something warm on the stove, you won’t mind being snowed in!

Keep your eyes peeled for winter lagers courtesy of additional local breweries like Grizzly Peak Brewing Company, 120 W. Washington St., Ann Arbor, Motor City Brewing Works, 470 W. Canfield, Detroit, and Woodward Avenue Brewers, 22646 Woodward Ave., Ferndale.

Enjoy your beer at home or out on the town, but either way, make sure to drink responsibly. Happy Holidays!