Christmas may be over, but baby it’s still cold outside. Which means it’s still a good time to be inside drinking beer (okay, it’s a good time to do that most times of the year). Each winter, America’s breweries—major players and tiny craft breweries alike—vie for our ale-loving affection with special edition beers at this time of year. And each year, we thank the craft beer gods and sample the lot. So, while it’s too cold for beer gardens, spend a little time inside with these four fantastic new craft beer releases.
New craft beers to try this January
The Eleventh Labor, Schlafly Beer, St. Louis, MO
If you’re thinking that a tart, thirst-quenching, low-alcohol Berliner Weisse is not an ideal winter or holiday beer, you’re right! Part of the St. Louis outfit’s Ibex series, which features experimental beers beyond their normal portfolio, the Eleventh Labor features a healthy dose of apricot sweetness balancing against sour notes from the yeast. Seasonally appropriate or not, this beer is a reminder that Old Man Winter will eventually show himself out.
Hopslam, Bell’s Brewery, Kalamazoo, MI
One of the stalwart Michigan brewery’s most popular offerings returns in January. Hopslam—so exceedingly popular that some have referred to as “Hypeslam”—will appear in 12 ounce cans for the first time this year (as well as in mini-kegs and on draft). Over-the-top grapefruit, citrus and floral notes are complemented by a honeyed malt sweetness. At 10 percent, this is the anti-session beer, but since it flies off the shelves you may not be able to find enough to make a session of anyway.
Autocrat Coffee Milk Stout, Narragansett Beer, Providence, RI
For those unfamiliar with the Ocean State, coffee milk is Rhode Island’s official state drink. The beer’s namesake takes milk and blends it with coffee syrup (kind of like chocolate milk, but with java). Narragansett and Autocrat, a coffee syrup purveyor, have teamed up to produce a beer with a full mouthfeel and the roasted barley notes you’d expect from a stout as well as a sweetness from lactose (milk sugar) and, of course, coffee. Find this breakfast (or dessert) beer in 16oz tallboys largely on the east coast.
Otra Vez, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co, Chico, CA
Venerable Chico, CA and Mills River, NC brewery Sierra Nevada has an eye toward warmer weather with its new year-round offering. Gose is a light, crisp German-style beer that uses Lactobacillus yeast to impart a touch of refreshing tanginess. Sierra’s take on the increasingly popular style adds the fruit of the prickly pear cactus, which contributes its own tanginess that plays well with grapefruit notes from an experimental hop variety. Look for it starting January 1, but keep it in mind for April through August, when it will really shine.