Beer Styles for Colder Weather - Part 1

Posted by Barley Beaver on

Part 1

As the waning light lets the Autumn cold seep deeper into our surroundings, we are instinctively drawn closer to fire, or at least a place where it’s warm and comfy. And it’s only natural that in such circumstances one would prefer a kind of beer that has the ability to chase the chill away, rather than a refreshing light beer that goes so well with the Summer heat. We’re talking about beers that could be sipped and enjoyed even after they’ve warmed in your hand while you’ve been relaxing in the armchair or on the couch for a period of time. We’re talking about winter warmers.

'Winter warmers' or 'sippers' is a colloquial term used to describe beers that require a more thoughtful and laid back approach to them. These beers usually boast a fairly high alcohol content, sometimes rivalling that of wine and even some liquors, while also ranging in colour and flavour. Yet, whether it’s an Imperial Stout, Barleywine or Triple IPA, all of these beers share the same heavy character that isn’t to be approached lightheartedly - rather than drinking them fast and cold before popping another, a single glass may last for up to an hour, providing impressive complexity of flavour and aroma. Not to mention that these beers will get you drunk fairly fast if you drink them too quickly.

Here are some of the beer styles that go particularly well on a chilly Autumn night:

Russian Imperial Stout

Hailing back from the days when English brewers had to make their Stouts really strong in order to ship them over the Baltic all the way to Russia, where the local nobles were particularly appreciative of the ale’s rich roasted flavour and boosted alcohol content. These beers may start at around 8%, yet seeing figures of around 13-14% is nothing exceptional these days, as there are many breweries all across the globe pushing their brew houses to the max with this particular style. Rich, dark, complex, boozy, and particularly enjoyable, especially if you’re a fan of dark beer styles. When done right, tastes like a chocolate cake with rum in liquid form.


It’s like wine, only made from barley malt - the style’s name says it all. Pioneered again by the British, this is a particularly strong ale that puts focus on the malt side of the flavour spectrum, although modern American specimens may feature pronounced hop flavour and aroma as well. Ranging from light copper to dark brown in colour, these beers usually lack the roastiness of Imperial Stouts, while being as complex and enjoyable. Thick, rich, sweet and boozy - that’s what Barleywines are all about.

Bock, Doppelbock, Eisbock

Developed by German brewers, Bock, naturally, is a lager beer, yet brewed to a higher gravity and alcohol content compared to ordinary light or dark lagers. The flavour profile is mostly malty, with prominent caramel notes dominating the palate. There are different sub-styles to Bock, which tend to be associated with various seasons, such as Maibock for instance, yet they mostly share the same character, boasting an alcohol content of around 7-8%.

Doppelbocks are what Double IPAs are to IPAs - a boosted gravity version of simple Bock, reaching AVBs of up to 9%. These beers tend to be fuller in body and more flavourful, with noticeable traces of alcohol also being present.

Eisbocks take the clean lager study on malt flavours even further, as they boast an even higher alcohol content that usually reaches 15%. This is achieved through partial freezing of the finished beer, with water ice being extracted from it, which leaves a higher concentration of alcohol that turns into ice at much lower temperatures than water. This results in a liquor-like texture, viscosity and flavour, which makes the style perfect for sipping by the fire on particularly cold winters.

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