As crisp autumn afternoons fade into winter evenings spent warming up by the fireplace, Wilmington brewers have put away the Oktoberfest and pumpkin spiced ales until next fall for winter seasonal favorites to welcome in the holidays. Just like each of the region’s dozen or so breweries have a unique take on the age old craft of brewing, so, too, do they place a creative stamp on winter beers.
Late Fall Favorites
Escape the chill by cozying up in your favorite brewery with a hearty and high gravity beer. Ironclad Brewery welcomes in the cooler weather with their Navigator Double Bock. The rich toffee and caramel aroma, velvety texture, and roasty flavors coupled with a 7.5% ABV will help elevate your body temperature. Look for the bourbon barrel aged version available later this season.
While St. Stan's Polish Festival in Castle Hayne may have been canceled due to Hurricane Florence, Front Street Brewery is still pouring their St. Stan’s Baltic Porter. The Wilmington winter staple delivers dark, mocha-like malts with a clean lager finish.
Turkey Day Favorites
Move over Riesling, Wilmington breweries have the perfect pairings for Thanksgiving feasts. Kick off the celebration with Waterline Brewing’s Holiday Spiced Gruit. The hop-less ancient ale is spiced with just enough cranberry, habanero, chai, and juniper to open up your palate for all the treats to come.
Once the turkey hits the table, pop open a growler of Waterman’s Brewing’s Sweet Sienna Brown. The English-style brown ale is brewed with a hundred pounds of North Carolina grown sweet potatoes, rosemary, thyme, sage, and brown sugar. It’s sweet, smoky, and savory notes bind together the many flavors of Thanksgiving. Another option to complete your Thanksgiving table with is Batatas from Good Hops Brewery. The amber ale is augmented with sweet potatoes, cinnamon, and cranberries.
For dessert, opt for your apple pie in liquid form. Special for Thanksgiving, Wrightsville Beach Brewery takes the base beer for their Airlie Amber Ale and tosses in an apple pie (minus the crust, of course), baked by their very own Chef Allyson. It’s so good, you’ll wish Allyson’s Apple Pie Amber Ale was brewed year-round.
Just because it’s cold outside, doesn’t mean you still can’t enjoy your favorite brewery patio. Back by popular demand is Broomtail Brewery’s Jolly Elf Winter Warmer. Think full-bodied flavors of nutty malts, vanilla bean, and cherry balanced out with holiday spices and alcohol warmth. This is a very limited run beer, available on Friday, November 30 at Broomtail and Saturday, December 1 at the Sour Barn. It’s 8.4% ABV will rosy up your cheeks to welcome in Old Man Winter.
Flytrap Brewing wants you to warm up this winter with their Belgian Chocolate Stout. The rich, chocolate notes of this hefty beer are balanced by intricate notes of fruit. Pick up a 375 ml bottle to enjoy at the brewery or at home in front of a fire with your favorite Christmas movie.
Not all winter warmers fall to the dark and malty side. New Anthem Beer Project brings the hops with the dank, herbal, and piney notes of their Throne of Lies Triple IPA. Look for this one in late December. We hear it sips well with Elf.
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On the Lighter Side
On the lighter side, yet still full-flavored for your winter weather enjoyment is Edward Teach Brewery’s Black Spot Black Lager. Don’t let the color full you, this beer is a roasty yet crisp football watching sipper. Another seasonal favorite is Wilmington Brewing’s Sea Meat Oyster Stout. Out in mid-January, this lighter stout is brewed with oysters for a briny finish that will leave you wanting for summer days on the beach.
Don’t hibernate the winter away all by your lonesome. Instead, visit Wilmington area breweries to taste their winter seasonal offerings with friends old and new.
For more information on craft breweries, bottle shops and top hops spots in Wilmington and its island beaches, visit the craft beer page.