Beer seasons move so quickly. It's always a tad disconcerting to see Samual Adams put up their pumpkin beers in JULY. And the excuse they gave me a few years back was that they "didn't make enough summer seasonal", so they decided to just ship the next seasonal. If that's their business plan, so be it. But I personally disagree with that sentiment.
But I digress. The point is, given Christmas is nearly upon us, we've moved out of the cinnamon/nutmeg/clove/all-spice holiday beers that dominate the 4th quarter of the calendar year and into the true winter season: heavier styles with typically high alcohol content, and typically darker styles like porters and stouts, and old ales or strong ales from more-ambitious brewers. We'll get to a couple of old ales later.
First up is the local, which is a bit of a revisit. I first did a quick Beer Flight fly-by of River Rat's Broad River Red in October while I was getting caught up on my beer tastings. I revisited the beer to bring more detail this time around. So, let's get to it. Broad River is among the tastier reds I've had. Malts dominate the make up of this ale, resulting in some grainy, toasty flavors followed by caramelly sweetness. It has a light-to-medium body, and is very smooth and easy-drinking. Arguably, this might be my favorite beer out of my favorite hometown brewery.
The first of our winter seasonals is Southern Tier Brewing Company's Old Man Winter. The Old Man pours a reddish brown color, and contained hints of caramel, nice dark fruit sweetness, and additional boozy sweetness. Piney hops also were present, and contributed a fair amount of hop bitterness to the taste.
The second seasonal was Great Divide Brewing Company's Hibernation Ale, which poured a muddy brown color. It contained a whole lot of boozy sweetness (coming in at 8.7% ABV) and not a lot of body to me. Flavors included coffee hints along with caramel and toffee sweetness. Roasty maltiness comes through in the finish of the taste, and remains in the aftertaste. The Hibernation Ale to me seemed more indicative of the kinds of styles that tend to come out during this early calendar year season.