From cold brews with a boozy kick to actually tasty alcohol-free stouts, here are three winter beer trends to try in the new year.
Trend #1: Big Stouts Come in Smaller Packages
Imperial stouts, rich bruisers with flavors of roasted coffee and chocolate, are ideal winter warmups. But the typical 22-ounce size and 7 to 12 percent ABV has made the stout a tough nut to crack without calling in friends for backup. Now breweries are packaging stouts in smaller bottles and cans. Two years ago, Revolution Brewing downsized its entire barrel-aged series, including Deth’sTar Imperial Oatmeal Stout, to 12-ounce cans. “It simply opens up the beer for more occasions,” says head brewer Jim Cibak.
Trend #2: Cold Brew With a Different Buzz
Increasingly, breweries and brewpubs are hosting brunch, and more and more, they’re experimenting with another morning staple: cold-brew coffee. They’re merging joe with beers (and other alcoholic beverages) to form a malted drink that’s rich in bean flavor and, well, downright delicious. Philadelphia roaster La Colombe uses its cold-brew blend, made from medium-roasted Colombian and Brazilian beans, in the Hard Cold Brew Coffee. There’s a vanilla version, but we like to take it black, no ice.
Trend #3: Alcohol-Free Beers Take a Tasty Turn
For health-conscious drinkers looking to moderate alcohol consumption, a new generation of breweries is churning out near beers you’ll actually want to check out. There are now nonalcoholic IPAs, refreshingly lemony sour ales, and wintry stouts like All Out, from Athletic Brewing. The two-year-old company focuses entirely on alcohol-free beers. “The craft-beer world,” says founder Bill Shufelt, an avid skier and trail runner, “is finally starting to open its arms to adapt to today’s health and wellness trends.”