Summer beer season gets more hype, but winter is the season where beer lovers get to really dig in.
Local breweries have been peppering my inbox with new releases for about a month now, and while there are way too many to mention them all here, the new stuff ranges from creative stouts to festive witbiers to winter warmers. After some careful tasting and curation, below are my favorite winter beer releases by New England breweries for 2023.
Dorchester Brewing’s Beantown Stout: Vietnamese Coffee: If you’re a fan of the bánh mì sandwich, you know Dorchester is the Boston neighborhood to find them. You might also be hooked on Vietnamese style coffee, in which case Dorchester Brewing’s new beer is for you. A bold stout made with coffee and vanilla, this beer is made in collaboration with Dorchester’s Flat Black Coffee. 7.2 percent ABV
Narragansett’s White Christmas Winter Warmer: Brewed with cherries, orange peel, and ginger, this winter warmer gives notes of toffee and dried fruit. A little sweet and a little bitter due to the use of English hops, this one is definitely a sipper. 7.4 percent ABV
Lord Hobo’s J.P. Licks Chocolate Mint Ice Cream Stout: Two Boston-area brands come together here to make a beer inspired by chocolate mint ice cream. This stout is infused with lactose and just a hint of mint; I was nervous about this one, but the mint is a subtle addition to a beer with a cool finish. 6 percent ABV
Allagash Brewing Snow Report: Allagash is the best brewery in New England, which is a good place to start. They call this wintry golden ale an imperial saison, brewed with Maine wildflower honey and full of aromas of mango, apple, and peach. 8.6 percent ABV
Samuel Adams Old Fezziwig: Available in Boston Beer Co’s “Beers for Cheers” variety pack, Old Fezziwig is now also available in six-packs. Full bodied with notes of sweet toffee and caramel, this one is a holiday classic. 5.9 percent ABV
Bully Boy Distillers and Castle Island Brewing’s Stone’s Throw IPA: West Coast-style IPAs are making a comeback. This one from Castle Island Brewing is made with the same hops found in Bully Boy Distillers’ amaro, a bitter spirit. The beer has grapefruit and lime aromatics, with a little spicy rye malt to tighten things up. 6.5 percent ABV
Night Shift’s Owl I Want For Christmas: Night Shift has never made a holiday ale, until now. This Belgian style witbier is made with orange peel, ginger, and spices, takes inspiration from the Mariah Carey seasonal staple, and is a taproom only release. 5.3 percent ABV
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