12 of the best winter beers brewed in New Jersey
The real cold weather is here, the holidays are over, the Jersey Shore just a distant memory... Yep, we've hit the winter doldrums and there's no real end in sight. But hey for us beer lovers, it's not all bad news.
In fact for us the winter means opportunity. The opportunity to find rare seasonal brews. The opportunity to get snowed in with nothing to do but drink beer. The opportunity to enjoy darker ales that tend to be higher in alcohol. Oh and most importantly, the opportunity to hide all your newly acquired beer weight under thick, baggy clothes.
We are lucky here in NJ to have so many great local breweries to choose from. You don't have to drive far to find a great brewery crafting serious winter seasonals. Bold styles such as stouts, barleywines, Belgian dubbels and tripels, brown ales, and triple IPAs are all perfect for when the days are short and the temps are low.
We’ve assembled a list of some the best locally brewed winter craft beers. You’re bound to find a style you like that will warm your soul and help you make it through the cold. Keep an eye out for these or better yet take a trip and seek them out. Here's to surviving another winter in NJ. Cheers!
This un-spiced winter warmer will grab you by the "horns." Taking its inspiration from the classic old fashioned cocktail, malty sweetness with hints of maraschino cherries and orange peel. With its high alcohol content it will surely warm you up this winter, but please drink "responsi-bull-y..." okay enough puns. 8.5% ABV.
I'm a big fan of spicy foods and Mexican mole so it's no surprise I really enjoy Conclave's Mexican Morning. An espresso infused milk stout brewed with dried chile de árbol peppers, vanilla bean, cocoa nibs and cinnamon. It has a lot going on just like a bold mole sauce. All the different flavors come through as you keep drinking almost dancing back and forth with the heat from the peppers and cinnamon. 5% ABV.
A big part of surviving the winter in New Jersey is knowing that someday... someday... the weather will warm up and you'll be back on the beach. Funnel Cake Ale, with its creamy smooth hints of vanilla will make you feel like the wait is over. You'll be transported to the shore, smelling the funnel cake cooking as you stroll down the boards in 90 degree heat. 5.5% ABV.
A sessionable stout but with enough complexity to evolve as you keep drinking more. Starting out with notes of bitter dark chocolate and strong coffee as you drink it and it warms up it mellows out. The sweetness starts to come through from the lactose along with notes of vanilla, milk chocolate and mocha. 4% ABV.
It you want to try this American brown ale just follow it's name. Take Bond St. down to Cookman Ave. and stop by The Complex in Asbury, if it's in season you can probably find it there. You'll be happy when you taste the big malt presence balanced with notes of caramel, toffee, chocolate, and coffee. 4.8% ABV.
A strong, dark Belgian ale that is full bodied and packed with flavor. The Belgian yeast used to make this winter ale gives a nice banana character which complements the malty flavors and the high alcohol. 8% ABV.
Originally their Hop Lab Triple IPA, this big bold American Triple / Imperial IPA is a sipper for the cold winter months. Kane is the king of NJ IPAs and the tropical fruits, pine and citrus explode out of this bitter hop bomb, which is welcome alongside the high amount of alcohol. Sip by a warm fire and let the tropical fruit remind you of summer. As it slowly warms up (and warms you up) the beer opens up a bit and the bitterness calms down to make for a nice enjoyable, yet strong IPA. 10.4% ABV.
Espresso Brown is Flounder's winter seasonal selection. They take their Murky Brown recipe (an American brown ale) and infuse it with espresso beans that are locally roasted specifically for this beer. The result is a smooth brown ale with a nice delicate hit of coffee. It's not overpowered by the espresso and rounds out perfectly with the malty sweet finish. 5.3% ABV.
A very drinkable Belgian-style Dubbel with a wide range of fruit notes from apple and cherries, to plum and raisins. Carmel and malt come through in the middle and it finishes dry with expressive carbonation. It hides its alcohol content well so be careful with this one folks! 7.2% ABV.
A nice winter dessert beer. This brown ale is packed with notes of cinnamon, vanilla, light molasses and of course raisins. In fact they use 200lbs of raisins in each batch. All in all, a unique beer that really does taste like a cookie. 7% ABV.
Dark Lagers are a pretty underrepresented style in the NJ craft beer scene. Cape May Brewing does the style justice with their Tall, Dark & Lager. Don't let the color fool you, this is a drinkable, refreshing lager with the added bonus of chocolate and coffee notes from the roasted malt additions. 5.5% ABV.
Coming in at a whopping 12.5% ABV this barleywine is best enjoyed while snowed in with nowhere to go. All the bold characteristics of a barleywine sweet, boozy, with notes of raisins and dried cherries. 12.5% ABV.