Monday, January 12, 2015

My Favorite Winter Beers

Partied-out Gremlin here.  I hope you all had a spectacular set of holidays.  Now it is back to the grind.  In some ways it is a good thing. I am looking forward to a year calm, without any wedding planning or serious expenses.  Although I might need glasses / contacts, but that is a whole other topic altogether.

Over my holidays I spent time in 3 different states: Virginia (where I live), New Jersey (where I grew up), and Tennessee (Nash Vegas baby!).  I witnessed some good sports; a great Winter Classic win for the Caps, excellent SEC losses in college football (go Ducks, quack quack), and excellent Barclay's PL action.  And as of now the Cowboys have lost, so all is right in the world.

Throughout this time I drank a variety of beers - some were due less to choice and more to situation.   Bud Lights and PBRs were drank in Nash Town more than anything else, partly due to cost.  With the families I drank what I brought (mostly wedding leftovers) or what was available.  All that time and  goodness consumed made me wonder, what is my favorite winter drink?

So I decided I must choose based upon them: being available in a 6 pack, the item must have a good ratio - $/% (The PS#) = $ cost per 6 pack (in local stores) / % Alcohol By Volume (ABV).  And that's enough rules.

So without any delay here are my top 5 winter selections, frost them well:

1 - Grand Cru Seasonal by Flying Fish (NJ)
Cost is $7.99 per 6 pack, ABV = 6.9%.  PS# = 1.158

A strong beer with a great flavor.  You can easily down 2 to 3 of these, which if you do will make legally unable to drive pretty much everywhere in the world.  I love this beer, not because its from where I grew up, but because it has that warming Belgian style taste and its heavy to the point of not needing dinner.

2 - Tidings Seasonal by Port City (VA)
Cost is $11.99 per 6 pack, ABV = 7.8%.  PS# = 1.537

Watchout, this will knock you down and make you stay there.  The amazing thing is one is all most people need.  It goes down smooth similar to the Grand Cru, but it also has some spicy qualities

3 - Evil 8º by Blue Mountain (VA)
Cost is $9.99 per 6 pack, ABV = 7.7%.  PS# = 1.297

This guy is a nice chocolaty dark Dubbel.  Hits the nose as hard as it uppercuts your tongue.  This one could supplant a meal if you really want it to.

4 - New Belgium Accumulation (CO)
Cost is $8.99 per 6 pack, ABV = 6.2%.  PS# = 1.297

First IPA on this list.  This winter mix is much more of a light hearted Winter beer.  It is not so heavy as to punch you out if you have more than 2, but it still has a kick.  It also goes well into spring.

5 - Bell's Two Hearted Ale (MI)
Cost is $8.99 per 6 pack, ABV = 7.0%.  PS# = 1.284

Michigan has some great breweries.  Bell's always gets props because of its Two Hearted, which is good any time.  However, all too often New Holland is overlooked and they have some good stuff.

I think the lower the PS number the better.  Anyways, drink up its cold outside and you don't want to be there.


  1. DG,

    I'll reinforce the stereotype by being the first Belgian to comment on an article about beer. :)

    From what I've seen on various websites the majority of these beers sound delicious. Next time I'm in my local specialty store, I'll definitely ask if they have some of them in stock (probably not, but still).

    Also, I see none of the beers you mention have an ABV above 8%. Is that considered too strong or is there a legal limit of some kind? Most of the Winter beers over here are in the 10-12% range?

    Best wishes,

  2. NMW,

    Belgian beers are excellent, but can be expensive in the USA. I have a large bottle of Chimay in the refrigerator right now, just waiting for a good time to have it. On the flip side, because Belgian styles are so good many US breweries make some variety. I suspect these beers will be hard to find overseas, after all some hard to find from one store or state to another. Your best bets are numbers 4 and 5 (New Belgium and Bell's are much larger by volume than the other two).

    I like beers above the 8% range, but I just have not seen a lot of 8%+ that were sold in 6 packs. However there are a bunch in the US, including one by Lagunitas called Brown Shugga at 9.9%. Some states do have laws against or limiting the sale of high ABV beers (the state of Utah comes to mind). In fact every state has different laws about beer and where you can buy certain types of alcohol. For those unaccustomed, it is truly a weird thing. At least in Virginia you can buy beer and wine almost anywhere, liquor is another story.

    Thanks for the comment,