Last week, I wrote about the curious case of the disappearing winter ales. Some breweries are doing away with winter-themed beers, opting instead to use the season to push brews like juicy IPAs that sell well year round. Look hard enough, though, and you can still find winter ales on shelves, as well as other brews perfectly suited for the cold weather. Below are some beers you should be drinking right now.
Brown Shugga’, Lagunitas Brewing Co.
This 9.7 percent ABV ale originated as a mistake, In 1997 Lagunitas brewers were trying to make a barleywine and messed up the batch; adding brown sugar saved the brew, and a new beer was born. There’s sweetness to Brown Shugga’, but not as much as the name would suggest, owing to a healthy dose of hops that’s characteristic of most Lagunitas brews.
Darlin’s IPA, Winter Hill Brewing Co.
This sometimes coffee shop, sometimes brewery in Somerville is releasing two new beers this month: Russian Ending Imperial Stout, a limited offering, and Darlin’s IPA (6.5 percent), available year round starting now. Brewer Jeff Rowe describes it as an East-meets-West IPA, hazy and deep orange in appearance, floral and dank in aroma with a slight old school bitterness to round it out.
Sang Rouge 2015, Cascade Brewing
One message I’ve gotten from many brewers over the years is that sour, barrel-aged beers should be way more expensive, given the time and effort they take to produce. And so the sticker shock on brews from this standout, Portland, Ore., brewery — whose beers can run upward of $30 a bottle here — should be taken within that context. A blend of sour red ales aged in wine barrels and other oak for up to 24 months, Sang Rouge (7.8 percent) features notes of dried currant, red wine, and toasted oak. Dark and complex, the beer was last released three years ago.
Winter Ale, Wachusett Brewing Co.
Those of you still looking for a winter ale will be heartened to know Wachusett still makes a good one. Its (6.5 percent) brings together the malty smoothness of a brown ale with the bite of an IPA.
Framinghammer, Jack’s Abby Craft Lagers
Jack’s Abby’s Baltic Porter is a staple this time of year, but the Hendler brothers have kicked it up a notch, offering tap room-only variants like Cordon Rouge Barrel-Aged Framinghammer, aged in bourbon barrels with orange peel. Four barrel-aged versions of Framinghammer, as well as the classic (10 percent ABV), are available now in distribution. More limited versions (graham cracker-aged beer anyone?) will be released in the tap room this spring.