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10 Great Winter Beers to Try Slideshow

10 Great Winter Beers to Try Slideshow



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Brooklyn Winter Ale, Brooklyn Brewery

This dark copper-colored seasonal offering from the ever-popular Brooklyn Brewery impresses with its bready, malty character. Made in the style of a Scottish ale, it's smooth and easy-drinking — a great beer to help remind you why you like winter when the holiday madness starts to set in.

Hibernation Ale, Great Divide Brewing

Intense, with strong notes of spice, it would be easy to make a case for staying inside with a tall glass of this dark English-style old ale throughout the cold winter months.

Doggie Claws, Hair of the Dog

This Portland brewery's potent seasonal sip is made in the style of an English barley wine. Face-scrunchingly bitter (in a good way) with big malts to match, it's a great brew to enjoy now or cellar for later.

Winter Session Ale, Peak Organic Brewing Company

Let's be honest, the stress of the holiday season can sometimes drive us to drink. Fortunately for craft beer fans, the Portland, Maine, brewery has this sessionable seasonal winter wheat ale (a follow up to their popular Summer Session). Striking a nice balance between toasty malts and a bright, pineapple flavor from the Citra hops, this a flavorful low-alcohol beer to shake the wintertime blues.

Christmas Ale, Brouwerij St. Bernardus

Get into the Christmas spirit with this dark brown seasonal selection from St. Bernardus. Velvety, with strong pear and apple flavors, the Belgian brewery's strong ale is a great sip-by-the-fireside option.

He'Brew Jewbelation, Shmaltz Brewing

The 14th anniversary edition of Saratoga Springs, N.Y.'s seasonal "chosen beer" is an homage to the number 14 — impressively featuring 14 varieties of hops and 14 different malts, and clocking in at 14 percent ABV.

Anchor Christmas Ale, Anchor Brewing

Like that mysterious present under the tree you can't wait to open, the San Francisco brewery's popular Christmas ale is an unexpected treat for fans year after year, because the recipe is never the same. What does remain consistent is that it rarely disappoints.

Santa's Private Reserve, Rogue Brewing

Can you hear them — those caroling hop-heads singing, "All I want for Christmas is Santa's Private Reserve... "? The Oregon brewery's dark, double-hopped beer starts rich and finishes with an appropriately piney, spruce-like flavor on the finish.

Celebration Ale, Sierra Nevada

This eagerly anticipated winter IPA from the Chico, Calif., craft brewery does the season proud with a well-matched mix of toasted malts and vibrant, citrusy hops.

Sleigh'r Dark Double Alt, Ninkasi Brewing Company

This rockin' holiday ale from the beloved Eugene, Ore., brewery is dark and malty, but with just the right punch of hoppy bitterness.


Best Winter Stews to Enjoy All Weekend

When you want something hot and hearty, a soul-warming dish to take away the chill, stews fit the bill. An anytime alternative to soup, stews can be created from recipes as elaborate or as simple as you feel like tackling. Some recipes are straightforward and traditional, others full of global inspirations. Read on for a selection that runs the gamut. And whether you use the Instant Pot, slow cooker or good ol' stovetop, these options will have you warmed up — literally and figuratively — with plenty for leftovers.


1. Pepperoni rolls

Pepperoni rolls &mdash Photo courtesy of Candace Nelson

This West Virginia regional favorite is rarely found outside of the state’s borders. The soft roll stuffed with sticks or slices of pepperoni was influenced by coal miners in the region who needed a quick, shelf-stable snack while deep underground. Now, the pepperoni roll may be filled with cheese, sauce or other ingredients for a filling meal.

Where to get it: Tomaro’s Bakery in Clarksburg, W. Va.


20 Belgian Beers to Drink Before You Die

While the American craft-beer scene has changed the face of brewing worldwide with its sheer gumption and ingenuity, it’s important to remember the centuries-old traditions that laid the foundation for our own hops-cowboys to do their thing.

The Germans gave us lager and showed us the magic of brewing at its most pure, using nothing but barley, hops, water, and yeast to create a remarkable range of flavors. From the English, we learned subtly, the art of the session beer, and the beauty of cask-conditioning. But more than anyone else, it’s the Belgians who ignited the imagination that defines American craft. As Don Feinberg, who began importing Belgian beers into the U.S. in 1982, has told us in the past, “[Belgian beer] showed home brewers, craft brewers, and big brewers that it’s what’s in the bottle that counts, not some absurd adherence to an approved ingredient list or narrow stylistic guidelines.” Many of the tricks that our brewers have pushed to extremes—barrel-aging, bottle-fermenting, cranking up the alcohol content, flavoring with fruit, and so on—have their roots in the small, artisanal breweries of Belgium.

Looking through the best beers in the country, as well as the most exciting up-and-coming breweries right now, it’s impossible to miss the emphasis on Belgian styles, not to mention the trail of Belgian yeasts that threads through many of our most celebrated beers. And what’s especially cool is that the game is coming full circle, with American experimentation shaking things up back in Belgium and producing hybrids like Hop-Ruiter, a strong golden ale amped up with hops to appeal to the U.S. palate.

In short, exploring the Belgian classics is an essential part of being a beer nerd—to know where we’re at, you’ve got to know where we started. But with so many options, what to drink? To help you narrow the field, we gathered our panel of beer pros, including bar owners and writers, to pick their favorite Belgians that are available stateside.

  • Joshua M. Bernstein, author of The Complete Beer Course and First We Feast contributor
  • Mike Lovullo,specialty brands manager for Union Beer Distributors
  • David Brodrick, founder of Blind Tiger Ale House
  • Ale Sharpton, beer journalist and author of Cruisin’ for a Brewsin’
  • Julian Kurland, Beer Director, The Cannibal Beer & Butcher
  • Anthony Finley, beer server at Proletariat
  • Niko Krommydas,beer writer
  • John Holl, beer journalist and author of The American Craft Beer Cookbook

From Trappist ales to saisons that set the blueprint, these are the Belgian beers you need to try before you kick the bucket.


10. Samuel Adams Whitewater IPA

Samuel Adam's Whitewater IPA is a combination of the body of a wheat beer, the hoppy kick of an IPA, and the sweetness of apricots. As the perfect summer beer, Whitewater IPA is super refreshing and delicious with its subtle hints of citrusy fruit and mild spiciness.

I'm not really a beer lover myself, but I will always be down to crack open one of these 10 beers. However, if these are still not working for you, try making your own beer cocktails.


10 Wheat Beers You Should Try After Blue Moon

PORTLAND, Ore. (TheStreet) -- The average U.S. beer drinker doesn&apost know what a witbier is. Ask them what a wheat beer is, however, and there&aposs a good chance the answer will be Blue Moon.

The hazy, cloudy, coriander-and-citrus concoction that&aposs become a summer favorite here in the U.S. and has worked its way into the catalog of brewers including Anheuser-Busch InBev (BUD) - Get Report , Boston Beer&aposs (SAM) - Get Report Samuel Adams and the Craft Brew Alliance&aposs (BREW) - Get Report Redhook existed long before Blue Moon came to be, but owes that brand a great deal of gratitude --ਊs do many small brewers and members of the craft beer community for whom Blue Moon served as a gateway between light lager drinkers and more complex beer styles.

It wasn&apost until Pierre Celis single-handedly revived the witbier after centuries of dormancy in 1965, when he began brewing it in his barn in the Belgian town of Hoegaarden, that witbier came out of a more than 400-year slumber. The yeast in witbier that&aposs allowed to float around and give it a hazy color disgusted brewers adhering to the Reinheitsgebot, the German brewing purity law enacted in the early 1500s that limited beer ingredients to water, barley hops and, begrudgingly, yeast after some prompting by Louis Pasteur. Under that provision, witbier&aposs standard combination of wheat, bitter Curacao orange peel, coriander, sweet orange peel and only a slight touch of hops is a no-no.

Celis&apos recipe turned into Hoegaarden White Ale and sold more than 300,000 barrels at its peak in 1985, when a fire engulfed its brewery and forced a cash-strapped Celis to sell to giant Belgian company Interbrew. That company is now known as Anheuser-Busch InBev and is the reason jelly-glass tumblers of Hoegaarden can be found in outdoor restaurant spaces and beer gardens across America. Undaunted, Celis moved to Texas and opened his own craft brewery just outside Austin in 1992. His Celis White was good enough to get Celis a buyout from Miller and introduce witbier to a generation of craft brewers.

Three years after Celis debuted his white, however, Coors (TAP) - Get Report brewer Keith Villa formulated Blue Moon while working at the company&aposs on-site brewery at the Denver home of Major League Baseball&aposs Colorado Rockies in Coors Field. Not only was it well-received during the initial craft beer boom in the early &apos90s, but it&aposs still growing in popularity today. Amid a recession that sent light lager sales plummeting, Blue Moon sales rose 26% in 2010 and anther 19% a year later, according to Beer Marketer&aposs Insights. Of the 20 beer brands that make up 72% of all beer sold in the U.S., Blue Moon is the only one that&aposs not a light lager.

Though slurred as "crafty" by the Brewers Association craft beer industry group and often ridiculed by craft brewers themselves, Blue Moon is often beer drinkers&apos all-important first leap from the comfort of their favorite mass-produced can into the broader beer spectrum. If you&aposve drunk witbier, you can handle a hefeweizen. If you can hack that, you might try a Berliner Weisse and some raspberry or woodruff syrup. If you&aposre comfortable with that in your beer, you could be persuaded into a tart lambic. From there, you could kick it up to a stronger tripel or abbey beer. From there, you&aposll be ready to drink a Trappist brew such as Rochefort or the evasive Westvleteren 12.

If you take that path, congratulations! You just went from Blue Moon to some of the best beers in the world in five steps and it wasn&apost a very difficult trip. It&aposs the wonder of an expanded palate and, depending on what a drinker enjoys most about Blue Moon or other witbier, it can go off in several directions. Like the citrus flavor? That&aposs the first step on the pale ale trail to an Imperial IPA. Like the cloudiness and spice? Welcome to wheat doppelbocks such as Germany&aposs banana-flavored Aventinus. Like the refreshing mix of all of the above? Step into a saison and see if that suits you.

The only problem presented by a Blue Moon is where to go next. Craft beers and imports have been the answer more often than not, but the mean, mocking cool kids from both of those ends of the beer aisle should be a bit friendlier if they want to keep reaping Blue Moon&aposs benefits. MolsonCoors has grown wise to Blue Moon&aposs effect on business and has built an entire "craft" division -- Tenth and Blake --ਊround it. After all, why let beer snobs who hate you cull your customers when you can redirect them to a Leinenkugel&aposs Honey Weiss or Summer Shandy or a Third Shift amber?

Until Tenth and Blake broadens its offerings a bit, there&aposs still a window of opportunity for smaller brewers to woo beer lovers who are just getting into wheat beers. The following are 10 examples of wheat beers well-suited to folks testing the boundaries of their beer tastes and looking to take the next baby step beyond Blue Moon:

Alcohol by volume: 5%

A year before Blue Moon made its debut, Allagash founder Rob Tod set up shop in Portland, Maine, and began making one of the first American takes on this Belgian import. His witbier and its long, slender glasses that are now ubiquitous in his core New England market all draw a direct lineage to Celis and his White.

"The first one I ever tried was the Celis White, when Pierre Celis was still brewing it in Texas," Allagash&aposs Tod told us two years ago. "That&aposs what turned me on to the style. And though our white is different than that white, I love that white and remember exactly how it tasted and the mouth feel."

Nearly two decades later, Tod is still brewing his flagship witbier with the same basic formula. His mix of a whole lot of wheat spiced with coriander and Curacao orange peel remains just as refreshing as it was when he began, but even Tod admits that simple recipe is deceptively difficult to brew consistently. That cloudiness hides a lot of complexity.

"Can you just bang a witbier out? Yeah," Tod says. "But to make it consistent and have that delicate balance between the spices and the character of the wheat, to make it cloudy and get that texture and look, it&aposs a tough beer to make."

St. Bernardus Wit

Alcohol by volume: 5.5%

If you&aposre going to start experimenting with Belgian styles, it helps to try one from Belgium every now and again.

In the case of St. Bernardus, a Blue Moon fan will get a bit of everything they love about that beer multiplied by about 20. It&aposs carbonated with a bit more pressure than mass-market witbier, which makes it crisp and surprisingly smooth without being overwhelming or gassy.

The mix of coriander and anise hits right away with a flavor like clove and a scent almost like citrusy pine -- no, oranges and lemons don&apost grow on pine trees, but trust us, it makes sense. The flavor, meanwhile, is incredibly tart but smooth. The folks at BeerAdvocate liken it to lemon meringue, but key lime pie or the lemon custard filling from a doughnut would fit as well.

The stumbling point of this beer is that, unlike Blue Moon or some of the other brews listed here, it&aposs likely not going to be available in the beer aisle or at the average packaged-goods store. It&aposs going to require a trip to a beer-specific vendor or bottle shop and a bit of bravery on the part of the drinker. Don&apost fret, the shops&apos staff typically have far less bite than the clientele and are there to help out. They won&apost be able to knock down the price -- which could result in sticker shock for those unfamiliar with Belgian imports that aren&apost Stella Artois --਋ut they might let you just buy a sample bottle and recommend something similar if it proves cost-prohibitive.

Alcohol by volume: 5%

Considered a must-have witbier in American craft beer circles, this behemoth from Japan&aposs Kiuchi Brewery enhances the original Belgian recipe in all the best ways possible.

The coriander gets a little added spice from a hint of nutmeg. The sweet orange peel is supplemented by orange juice. The result is a a witbier a bit more intense than the average and far more flavorful than training-wheels beers such as Blue Moon and Shock Top.

Kiuchi&aposs been cranking this out since 1996, and the consistent quality of the White Ale keeps its U.S. adherents coming back every summer.

Brooklyn Brewery Blanche De Brooklyn

Alcohol by volume: 4.5%

While not an impossible find -- it was kicking around as recently as last summer -- the Blanche De Brooklyn from brewmaster Garrett Oliver&aposs Brewmaster Reserve series is an intentionally rare breed.

What&aposs special about it? Other than the fact it has all that coriander-and-orange witbier goodness? Well, Oliver&aposs just slightly good at his job and managed to get his witbier down to a manageable 4.5% alcohol by volume. To the craft beer kids, that&aposs flat-out "sessionable," which means you can drink more than one without getting out of hand in a hurry.

When you&aposre trying to enjoy a refreshing beer in 90-degree heat, sessionability&aposs not such a bad quality to strive for. If it appears again -- which isn&apost completely out of the question, but a tough proposition for what&aposs supposed to be a one-off beer series -- maybe Oliver will be kind enough to can some of it.

Alcohol by volume: 5%

Namaste comes to drinkers in capped wine bottles and tastes just a touch grassier than some of its coriander-and-orange cohorts, but little that founder Sam Calagione does adheres to script. Namaste was born at the Calagione family dinner table, when Sam asked his wife and kids what kind of beer they&aposd like to make and what it would be called.

"My kids were 7 and 9 at the time and I forget their goofy answers, but my wife had just done yoga that morning and she loves wheat beers," he says. "She said &aposI&aposd love a Belgian white style made with lemongrass that I&aposd like to be called Namaste,&apos which at the end of yoga practice means &aposthe spirit in me recognizes the spirit in you.&apos"

Inspired by a friend at 3 Fonteinen brewery, which lost one-third of its total production to a power outage the day after his wife&aposs suggestion, and with the help of a brewer from the Birra de Borgo brewery in Italy, Calagione went about making "a very off-centered white beer." Instead of sticking to the standard Curacao orange peel-and-coriander formula, however, Calagione found an organic petrified orange in his travels and threw the dried peel&aposs flesh into the mix to produce more sugars without losing the orange aroma.

Though production of Namaste increased somewhat last year, it&aposs still available in limited supply and can be a tough find in certain corners of the country. That said, its mild alcohol content and dense flavor make it worth tracking down.

Alcohol by volume: 5.2%

Up in Astoria, Ore., summer is a rare commodity. When the sun does shine and the tourists drop by to see the house from The Goonies, the sea lions on the dock and the train that runs along the wharf by the old canneries, that&aposs when Fort George&aposs Quick Wit works its magic.

One of the few witbiers served in 16-ounce tallboy cans, Quick Wit is otherwise tough to distinguish from other wits. It&aposs pale, cloudy, unfiltered and packed with wheat. Generally nothing out of the ordinary.

It&aposs the ingredients list that separates it from the pack. A combination of organic pale and wheat malts, ground coriander, organic lemongrass in place of orange and wild-crafted elderflower wipes all the bitterness right out of this wit. Meanwhile, there&aposs just enough spice to let the palate wander a bit as drinkers consider another can before losing the sunlight.

Alcohol by volume: 5.2%

It may be from the same town that&aposs considered the birthplace of America&aposs national pastime, but Ommegang and its Witte are as Belgian as it gets in this country.

No, seriously. Back in 2003, Belgian brewer Duvel Moortgat bought Cooperstown, N.Y.-based Brewery Ommegang and its Witte witbier less than a decade after Ommegang opened in 1997. To this day, it&aposs the one brewery in America that can rightfully claim Belgian lineage.

With that comes incredible pressure and responsibility, but Ommegang has proven itself up to task. It sticks to the straightforward wheat/coriander/sweet orange formula and goes so far as to serve it in a Hoegaarden-style jelly glass when visitors make their way up to Cooperstown. From a brewery that&aposs modeled itself after a Belgian farmstead and ages some of its brews in barrels at nearby tourist spot Howe Caverns, that&aposs about the most you can ask.

Lagunitas Brewing Company A Little Sumpin&apos Sumpin&apos Ale

Alcohol by volume: 7.5%

Like your witbier but really want to see what&aposs up with those hops all the craft kids are raving about?

Well that&aposs firmly in Lagunitas&apos wheelhouse, and the Petaluma, Calif.-based brewer is up to the challenge. While more an American wheat beer than a true wit, Little Sumpin&apos Sumpin&apos has that pale wheat appearance but is loaded down with hops that give it a citrusy bite more akin to an IPA.

Let the pinup on the label serve as a warning: This isn&apost just some ballpark Blue Moon. This is one aggressive wheat beer that can be really fun and bitter if you come to love hops, but comes with a high price at 7.5% ABV if you&aposre not used to a brew that potent. Approach with caution.

Alcohol by volume: 5.6%

American wheat beer admittedly doesn&apost have a great reputation. At times, it undercuts its original Belgian or German recipe and becomes a, no pun intended, pale version of a better beer.

Three Floyds brewers seem incredibly self-conscious about that fact and loaded its Gumballhead with Amarillo Hops and a generous portion of American red wheat. Those hops hit a drinker right in the nose, as do traces of grapefruit, lemon zest, marmalade and peach. That&aposs somewhat fruity, but it also cuts into the hop bitterness that&aposs ill suited to what&aposs supposed to be a more citrusy beer. That combination took this brew out of Three Floyds&apos seasonal pile and made it a year-round offering.

As for the name, Gumballhead isn&apost nearly as sweet as that would suggest. It&aposs named in honor of the underground comic book cat created by Rob Syers. Consider that your summer reading.

Bell&aposs Oberon Ale

Alcohol by volume: 5.8%

Even a fairly mild Blue Moon can be a bit of a turnoff to someone used to their daily lager.

Where a witbier is somewhat lacking in subtlety, Bell&aposs Oberon wheat ale is a bit milder and a nice middle ground for folks having trouble making the adjustment. Spicy hop character and mildly fruity aromas combine with malt to make a smooth, easy-sipping summer brew that&aposs just wheaty enough to hang with witbiers, but benign enough to ease the transition from yellow fizz.


You’ve heard it before: You can’t rush a good braise. Take your time browning the chicken and mushrooms and building the velvety sauce for this coq au vin recipe.

Most braises start by browning the meat. Not this one. The cooked meat is sliced, floured, and seared at the end, which lends a pro touch to this dish.

Recipes you want to make. Cooking advice that works. Restaurant recommendations you trust.

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14 Refreshing Hard Ciders To Drink This Fall

Some drinks just sound better at a certain time of year. Rosé in the summer, red wine in winter, and, naturally, cider in fall. As the leaves start to change, make your way to the grocery store (or Drizly, because delivery, duh) and try some of our fave hard ciders. Apple, pear, pineapple, rosé. there are tons of flavors to choose from. There's a cider out there for everyone.

This Pacific Northwest-based cidery makes four ciders year round, including this dry hard cider, plus seasonal specialties. In the fall, you can find Pumpkin Spice cider, with Oaked Maple following it in winter.

Cider doesn't always mean apple. Crispin makes a Pacific Pear cider that's bright and fresh with a bit of a woody taste. Other Crispin varieties include Classic, Rosé, Blackberry Pear, and Honey Crisp.


A slim glass of beer sparkling with condensation and topped with white froth is one of the best drinks we know. The day may be summer-hot or ski-slope cold, but that frosty brew beckons. And our appreciation of beer does not have to end there. Try a beer cocktail: Mixing the hoppy and effervescent beverage with a judicious dash of hard liquor, a shake of a pantry-staple condiment, or a splash of soda or juice can produce very appealing, lower alcohol by volume drinks. A perfect example? The Orange Wheat Shandy that's pictured here: A traditional wheat beer bursts with citrus flavor thanks to the addition of freshly-squeezed orange juice. An optional splash of almond adds further depth of flavor.

As an opener to a meal, a toast at a party, an easy and celebratory punch on St. Patrick's Day, or a partner to a spicy meal, beer cocktails are easy to adapt and easy on the wallet. They are also remarkably food-friendly. A cornucopia of beer styles can be drawn on as a base, setting the tone for the flavors to follow. We know the black bitterness of Guinness, the yeasty appeal of a weissbier, the hoppy complexity of IPA's and the light snap of a classic lager. And that's just a smattering of what is available to the beer mixologist. Artisanal breweries produce a dazzling range of choice for your brew, and even big-beer brands offer the goods to yield a dignified and delicious beer cocktail.

From multiple creative interpretations of the classic shandy and the iconic black and tan to the feisty Michelada (a cocktail gift from Mexico!), we have collected our best beer cocktails to launch you on your exploratory quest. Prost!


What Do YOU Think?

Do you have any favorite low-calorie craft beers that didn't make our list? Have we inspired you to try a session beer? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Do you have any favorite low-calorie craft beers that didn't make our list? Have we inspired you to try a session beer? Share your thoughts in the comments below!


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