Winter What? Winter Warmer | The Undefinition of a Beer Style

There is no doubt you have heard this term floating around as the temperatures have been dropping. What I want to ask you is if you any idea what it means to be a Winter Warmer? It’s okay if you don’t know, until I started to dig into it myself I wasn’t really certain and honestly there is no easy definition.

            Some people simply define it as a “Winter Seasonal” but no offense that feels kind of boring. Others say it’s a combination of “Winter” and “Christmas” Ales, while that isn’t as boring I find that definition to be too limiting, there is more to a Winter Warmer than the Ale style.

So we continue the search for clarity.

           If you look it up on Beer Advocate they talk about the ingredients it takes to build it. These beers tend to be very malty. They often have a sweet presence, mimicking the holiday season they thrive in and range from light brown and red in tint to pure black. Rarely are these beers hoppy (sorry IPA lovers) and yes they tend to tip the scales when it comes to their ABV. The higher the ABV, the warmer they will keep you.

            So where does that leave us?

            I think it would be fair to say there isn’t a single definition of the Winter Warmer beer style. Instead of a style, to me, the Winter Warmer is a vibe, almost a beer lifestyle once the temperature drops. You know it will have malt, you know there will be a winter fruit or spice, and it’s going to have an ABV that will make you forget about those sessionable summer beers and family fights under the Christmas tree.

Here is our go-to list of Winter Warmers:

  1. Hibernation Ale – Great Divide Brewing Company
  2. Isolation Ale – Odell Brewing Company
  3. Snowed In – Copper Kettle Brewing Company
  4. Arctic Spice Old Ale – Lone Tree Brewing Company
  5. Blue Ski Lager – Epic Brewing
  6. Accumulation – New Belgium Brewing Company

Our recommended Christmas Beers List will be up next week.


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