Chilled beers and warm fireplaces are always a good pairing. You don’t need to reach for the strongest beer or the ones that taste like s’mores, just something to brighten the mood and spirit. No matter the weather or what’s for dinner, there’s a range of beers to snuggle up with.
Whether you call this a Black IPA or a hop-addled dark ale, it’s a bit medicinal but also decadent, like a dessert cocktail of Kahlua mixed with Jägermeister. The heaping roasted malts flesh out the framework, with the herbaceous hops seeping through the crevices. This calls for a rib eye with port-peppercorn sauce.
The faint aroma of milk chocolate gives way to toasted, molasses-sweetened brown bread that trails into a slightly sour yeasty note. The chocolate and caramel malts define the flavor, but the lighter body results in quite a session-worthy sipper alongside a block of Stilton or mild cheddar.
Mexican lagers are barreling toward being the new IPAs. Even if they were originally derived from Vienna and are dark amber in hue (a la Negra Modelo), any lager that’s light-bodied with piquant corn notes now gets labeled Mexican-style. For such a hop-heavy brewery out of Wyoming, Melvin’s sweet, slightly tangy number (devoid of any lime or chili additives) sure takes the corncakes.
Mexican lagers, which is to say Vienna-style lagers, may be the new “it” beers, but this one’s been around for 15 years (when it medalled at the Great American Beer Fest). It eschews flaked corn for an all-malt bill that lends pleasant caramel notes and color. The sweetness is tempered by both German and American hops, making this American take a bullseye for pork dishes or seasonal squash recipes.
An amber lager in the American craft tradition, the deep caramel malt character mixes burnt sugar and a whiff of leather that trails into a pleasing finish that’s less bitter than peppery. It’s easily enjoyed by the bottle or the liter stein and is a natural pairing for brats or flammkuchen.
Forget bells or cherries; the brewers in Shiner, Texas, hit the sevens with seven Northwest-grown hop varietals providing ample pine and grapefruit zest notes to the tune of 70 bitterness units and enough of a malt kick to reach 7 percent alcohol. Fermented with lager yeast instead of top-fermenting ale yeast, it was then conditioned on oak wood, giving the beer an overall toasty, vanilla finish.
So when you’ve got a kettle-soured beer (a la Berliner Weisse) featuring beets, carrots, ginger, and apples, the result can’t help but be reminiscent of a glass of “pressed juice” from a smoothie shop. It’s a little chalky and earthy—and a lot of tart and sharp. A breakfast beer, for sure.
This California brewery uses nothing but Australian-grown Galaxy hops in this IPA that erupts with hop bitterness, offering the varietal’s telltale passionfruit and under-ripe peach and papaya flavors.