Tuesday, February 23, 2016

5 Beers to Drink in the Dead of Winter

February is usually the doldrums of the craft beer year, coming after brewers have kicked the special offerings they made for Vail Big Beers but before the new-found creativity of the summer season begins to hit shelves. But not every brewery believes in taking a winter break.

New experiments and some returning late-winter seasonals that can be found on liquor-store shelves offer a peek at just what can be done with a few new hops or a few bold flavoring additives. And here then are a handful of beers you should grab before Spring comes and sweeps them away.

1) Grand Teton Double Vision Doppelbock
The first release in this Idaho brewery's 2016 Cellar Reserve series is a bold, slightly chocolaty offering reminiscent of a lighter-bodied porter. This is a truly excellent medium-bodied dark beer, laced with a tinge of alcohol taste to remind you how beefy a good German-style beer can be.

2) Ska Bump 'n Grind Coffee Cream Stout
Dark as night and balanced without being a coffee bomb, the cream here doesn't add sweetness as much as it provides a softness to this beer (pictured above). Arguably the most subtle of the Durango brewery's flavored stout series, this is a coffee beer for people who don't want the assaulting-bitterness characteristic of the coffee.


3) Odell Runoff Red IPA
Dry-hopped with a complex malt backbone, this hybrid red/IPA is an appropriate beer for the shoulder season. The maltiness gives the vibrant hops a slightly sweet character to go with the full body that is a constant characteristic of Odell offerings.

4) Crazy Mountain Emotional Rescue Double India Pale Ale
One of Denver's newest breweries (now operating in the old Breckenridge Brewery space on Kalamath Street) has been experimenting with a double IPA recipe for years before recently launching this in four-packs. The research time clearly was worth it, producing a resiny, bitter beer that mellows into a malt-balanced mouthful as it warms.

5) Strange Big Malty Winter Brew
One of the least-hopped beauties of early 2016, this warming, amber-colored malt bomb that's available in bombers hits all the right notes. The earthy malt brings its flavor without getting medicinal, and the beer turns slightly cocoa in your mouth as it warms.

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