The Best Beers for Cold Weather

Young's Double Chocolate Stout

wickenden / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

What is a good beer or beer style for cold weather? It's the middle of winter. The holiday season is past, and there is not much to do but shiver and look forward to spring. What is a beer lover to do?

We do not pay that much attention to the weather when we are picking out beer, at least not consciously. We probably pick different beers on a hot sunny day than we would on a cold, rainy day but we don't do so with a plan. Even so, we know that there are some beers that lend themselves more readily to cold weather than others.

tips for drinking beer in the winter
The Spruce / Michela Buttignol

Go Dark

Our first thought is of dark beers: stouts, porters, dobbelbock, the dark ones. Their flavor tends to be big and chewy and demands that you slow down and savor them. After all, when a cold wind is whipping around outside, who wants to be gulping down cold ones? No, when you are sitting at the fire with a blanket around your shoulders, you want a drink that you can slow down with and sip contemplatively while you stare and the flames and consider your mortality.

Besides being sipping beers, the big, dark styles tend to taste good whether they are cold or warm. You can let a glass of stout sit in your hand and warm up, and it is just as delicious as it was when you grabbed it out of the fridge. Lighter beers, especially Pilsner and pale lagers, are almost unpalatable when they get up to room temperature, so they are best avoided when you are trying to stay warm.

Go Local

By the way, why are you sitting at home and staring at the fire anyway? If the roads aren't too bad, why not pop over to your local brewpub? It does not matter what they are serving, the comradery of a warm bar on a cold day is enough to thaw the iciest of moods.

Go Boozy

The extreme beer movement has brought a whole host of high-alcohol beers to our beer store shelves. Besides being tasty sippers, these beers carry that added benefit of the warming feel of alcohol. There is nothing cozier than spending an hour or so sipping a rich, flavorful extreme beer and exploring its flavors as it warms and changes character in your hand.

Go to the Kitchen

Okay, so maybe you don't want a beer. It's cold, and beer is a cold drink, and nothing we say can convince you to think otherwise. Fine, but remember, the warm weather is just two or three months away so why not take advantage of the cold weather downtime to put back some homebrew? The hot steam from the brew pot and the smell of malt and hops will surely melt your frozen beer-loving soul. Oh, but you are an all-grain brewer, and you would have to go outside to make your homebrew beer? Get over it! It is not going to hurt anything to whip up a couple of extractor partial-mash beers in your kitchen while the winter wind blows outside.

Go to a Festival

Believe it or not, breweries and organizers are holding beer festivals in this ridiculous weather. Having attended a couple of such events, we can report that they are a lot of fun. Sure, it is cold, but good beer is flowing, and there is usually some heat source for everyone to gather around. There's no better way to get close with your fellow beer lovers.