We love to drink cold beer all year long—even during the Dead of Winter—but recent conversations with several local brewers have inspired us to revisit some of our favorite brews—warm.
Now, why would want to do a thing like that? Well, science, for starters.
“Temperature, you see, has a profound effect on our taste buds,” says Dave Carpenter, of Craft Beer & Brewing. “The chemical compounds that are responsible for the myriad aromas and flavors we love in our beer are variously activated and suppressed according to temperature. Warmth usually makes a flavor more perceptible, while cold tends to suppress it. Choosing just the right temperature ensures that these constituent chemicals remain properly in balance as you enjoy your craft beer or homebrew.”
The effect? Beer that is able to fully express itself. Beer you’ll be able to taste just as its brewer intended.
Here are 6 local beers you should drink warm this winter, according to the men and women who brewed them.
1. King Zog, Russian Imperial Coffee Stout, HopWin’s
“[King Zog] is a high alcohol beer and we use a different local coffee every time we brew it,” says William Hoppe, HopWin’s head of marketing. “When you drink it cold, you get strong chocolate with a faint hint of the coffee piercing through the roastiness—but we find that when we let it warm, we’re dealing with a whole new animal. The vanilla that we add to the fermentation takes the spotlight, leaving a touch of the chocolate finding its way into the background. The coffee now pulls to the front and all the complex flavors start beaming from that coffee like a prism suddenly exposed to light. It’s one of my favorite brews and I think really applies here.”
Pair it with: Smoked beef brisket or pork, Gouda cheese
2. Bourbon Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout with Sour Cherries, Blue Point Brewing
“Traditionally cask beer is served closest to room temp, and we will always have some cask beer available in our taste room. That would be my first go-to, but having a firkin at home isn’t really realistic,” says Blue Point brewmaster Dan Jansen. “With that said, our Bourbon Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout with Sour Cherries that we have in package right now is definitely a perfect beer to sip on at room temp while warming your feet by a fire. The barrel character of that beer really jumps out at you as it warms up. Last but not least would be our Coconator. It’s a Doppelbock brewed with toasted coconut. When it warms up, the toasted coconut and specialty malts, bringing hints of dark chocolate, balance each other nicely and are perfect for helping forget the cold winter chill outside.”
Pair it with: Dark chocolate truffles, Parmesan cheese
3. Errrl, Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Stout, The Brewers Collective
“Our newest Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Stout, Errrl (9.0% ABV), is the ideal beer to enjoy at room temperature,” says Brewers Collective co-founder Sarah Dougherty. “As it warms, the bourbon character of the beer really shines as well as the layers of roasted goodness.”
Pair it with: A hearty meat, such as lamb or steak
4. Boris the Spider Russian Imperial Stout, Spider Bite Beer
“Our beer that should be served warmer is Boris the Spider Russian Imperial Stout,” says Larry Goldstein, Spider Bite owner and brewmaster. “As it warms, the chocolate and roasted coffee notes increase and the mouthfeel gets smoother. All the complexity comes out to enjoy.”
Pair it with: A hearty stew, chocolate and cake
5. Sleigh Ryed, Great South Bay Brewery
“While we do not have any beer that is specifically meant to drink warm we have Sleigh Ryed, a Rye Ale available in our Tasting Room that would be awesome at room temp or a little warm,” says Rob Donahue, Great South Bay’s tasting room manager and event coordinator. “It has juniper berries and malted rye that make you want to drink it while sitting next to a fire warming up after a nice sleigh ride in through the snow.”
Pair it with: Goose or turkey with cranberry sauce
6. The Black Friday Imperial Stout, Long Ireland
“Our Black Friday Imperial Stout is the perfect beer to drink at room temperature,” says Dan Burke, Long Ireland co-owner. “It’s definitely a sipping beer, because of its high alcohol content, but that’s great because it has a lot of complex flavors. There are a lot of roasted notes, from licorice to black candy fruit. Start it at 45 degrees and let it get warmer from there.”
Pair it with: Cheese and crackers