As the pumpkin spice craving fades with autumn waning and winter on the horizon, beer enthusiasts get ready to enjoy the warmth that comes with winter beers, leaving its summer lagers and session IPAs behind. Big-bodied winter beers typically come with various spices that comfort the body and soul, like cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Some strong English ales, imperial stouts, imperial reds, and other malty beers serve as de facto winter beers.
Iowa is home to more than 100 breweries and several have at least one winter offering. Here are some winter beers from Iowa breweries that you have to try. We’ve listed the style and alcohol by volume (ABV) of each.
Allerton Brewing Co. Winter Quarters, Independence
Style: Winter Ale ABV: 5.5%
Allerton Brewing Co. in Independence created Winter Quarters with inspiration from Scottish ales. Traditionally, Scottish ales are on the light side but have plenty of flavor and aroma. Winter Quarters comes with a generous amount of mulling spices, bringing out the holiday cheer for anyone who enjoys a pint.
Backpocket Brewing Winter Lager, Coralville
Style: Winter Warmer ABV: 5%
If you long for the lightness of summer lager with the flavors of winter, Backpocket Brewing’s Winter Lager is a good bet. Winter Lager is easy to drink, crisp, and clean. This winter warmer has been aged on cranberry and orange tea with various wintry spices.
Bent River Brewing Company Jingle Java Holiday Stout, Quad Cities
Style: Coffee Stout ABV: 6.4%
While Bent River Brewing Co. is on the Illinois side of the Quad Cities, it’s close enough that we will count it. Bent River Brewing’s Jingle Java Holiday Stout is a full-bodied coffee stout with a creamy to sticky texture. Bent River boasts that those who like its Uncommon Stout will love Jingle Java, which has vanilla, pecan, cinnamon, caramel, and rum notes, making it the perfect holiday blend.
Big Grove Brewery A Real Nice Surprise, Solon
Style: Hazy Double IPA ABV: 9.5%
Big Grove Brewery pays homage to “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” and Cousin Eddie with its hoppiest hazy. A Real Nice Surprise comes with massive amounts of Cashmere, Centennial, El Dorado, and Lotus hops packed into it. It’s the perfect winter beer when the shi*ter is full on your RV and you need to stand outside in your robe to empty it into the sewer.
Clock House Brewing Holiday Rains, Cedar Rapids
Style: Sour ABV: 6%
Who needs dessert when you can enjoy a Clock House Brewing Holiday Rains? This sour-brewed winter beer from the Cedar Rapids-based brewery has a little bit of this and a little bit of that. The dessert sour includes notes of strawberry, raspberry, cacao nibs, mini pretzels, and peanuts. Keep your eyes out for this new winter beer coming soon from Clock House Brewing!
Confluence Brewing Co. Saison, Des Moines
Style: French Saison ABV: 7.1%
You might be surprised to find a Saison as a winter beer because they are typically a summer brew providing a cold drink on a hot day. However, Confluence Brewing Company has turned tradition upside down by taking a Saison out of season and adding tart cranberries and spruce tips. Try Saison Des Moines all winter long and feel the holidays.
Exile Brewing Co. A Christmas Beer, Des Moines
Style: Doppelbock ABV: 7.1%
Exile Brewing Company’s A Christmas Beer offers some holiday flavors you will be hard-pressed to find in other winter and holiday brews. Enjoy this darker beer over the winter holidays as you celebrate with your family and friends and take its rich cocoa flavor with an aroma of dried figs and peaches.
Lion Bridge Brewing Comfy Pants, Cedar Rapids
Style: Winter Warmer ABV: 7.2%
Lion Bridge Brewing offers a handful of seasonal and winter beers. You should try them all, but start with Comfy Pants, if for no other reason that it’s a creative name. Comfy Pants is a rich, full-bodied English strong ale. You’ll find notes of dark fruits and caramel layered atop some floral hops.
Maquoketa Brewing Winter Wonderland
Style: Winter Ale ABV: 4.86%
Another option for a light, but flavorful Scottish ale is Maquoketa Brewing’s Winter Wonderland. It’s very similar to Allerton Brewing’s Winter Quarters. Winter Wonderland is brewed with a range of mulling spices, providing those comfortable holiday tastes and smells we love.
PIVO Brewery What Cheer Spiced Ale, Calmar
Style: Spiced Winter Ale ABV: 8.5%
Many breweries offer bourbon barrel-aged beers, often in small batches. PIVO Brewery’s What Cheer Spiced Ale fits the bill. This spiced winter ale is barrel aged for 11 months with allspice, cloves, mace, nutmeg, cinnamon, orange zest, and ginger, making it the perfect brew to substitute for mulled wine or cider during the holidays.
Rock River Brewing Co. Snowbound, Rock Rapids
Style: Porter ABV: 5.25%
Rock River Brewing Co. is a microbrewery in the small northwest Iowa town of Rock Rapids. However, don’t let its size scare you away. They have some tasty and reliable brews for locals and those who want to travel to its taproom and they are always adding new brews. Snowbound is a favorite for those looking for a warm vanilla porter.
By Jessica Lee
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