Tis the season to hibernate at home, invite a few friends over for dinner, and crack open the dark and heady beers of winter. To help you select the best brews to fuel these cozy celebrations, we asked a few of our local experts what they would want a guest to bring to their winter festivities.
Regan Long, co-founder of Local Brewing
"I'd love to have someone walk through the door of my party with something scarce, different and delicious, like Ale Apothecary's Sahati, a mixed fermentation ale brewed in carved out spruce logs."
If you want to take something to dinner from Local Brewing, pick up a growler of the Winter Sweater Imperial Porter, to be released on December 3rd. It’s an Imperial Porter with 40 pounds of graham cracker added to the mash as well as Madagascar vanilla beans.
Zambo, head brewer at 21st Amendment Brewery
"There are so many excellent winter beers out there. Cuvee de Mortagne from Picobrouwerij Alvinne in Zwevegem, Belgium will please beer and wine lovers alike."
21A's winter warmer is Fireside Chat, perfect for holiday parties with seasonal spices cooked right into the brew.
Kim Sturdavant, brewmaster at Social Kitchen & Brewery
"If someone would be so kind as to bring a growler of Cellarmaker's Contains Nuts #2 to any party I’m hosting, I would be grateful. It's definitely the season for this 6.6% malty amber ale with a touch of hand-toasted hazelnuts. This beer pairs with honey ham, turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce—pretty much anything on a winter table. For a contrast I'd also be stoked to see Fort Point Beer’s Park (an American pale wheat ale) cans come through the door."
As for Social Kitchen, they recently put a stronger version of the Pain Au Chocolat on tap, apty dubbed Two Pains. It's a 9.3% Belgian Quad conditioned on cocoa nibs. It's sweet, nutty, creamy, chocolaty, and has a dried cherry finish.
Beth Wathen, co-owner of City Beer Store
"Allagash Brewing Company’s Curieux aged in Jim Beam barrels has long been a steady date to any winter get-together I'm attending. It pours a gorgeous golden hue with a lush pillow of foam on top; vanilla and caramel swirled in each sip ending with a heady aroma of bourbon.
One more seasonal recommendation: Sante Adairius Rustic Ales in Capitola. There is something special happening there, from sophisticated Belgian-inspired styles to hoppy delights. A bottle or growler of this brewery's best beer is an excellent way to spread cheer."
Rich Higgins, consultant à la Bière
"I guess I get in the mood for Belgian flavors during the holidays; here are my favorites: 1). Avec Les Bons Voeux, a farmhouse style ale from Brasserie Dupont, offers loads of effervescent finesse and hints of lemon curd, white pepper, bay leaf, and bubble gum. 2). Scaldis Prestige de Nuits, a Belgian strong ale from Brasserie Dubuisson, has great structure and hints of biscuits, honey, oak, and red wine. 3). Trappistes Rochefort 10, a Belgian quad from Brasserie de Rochefort. It’s got hints of brandy-soaked figs, cocoa, and marshmallow."
Jesse P. Cutler, SF Brewers Guild
" I’d love to have Chanukah In Kentucky from Shmaltz Brewing Company at my next holiday dinner party. Chanukah In Kentucky is filled with notes of dark cherry and dates, light coffee roast, chocolate, toffee, caramel, and hints of vanilla and maple. The bourbon aroma really takes this winter warmer over the top. Perfect for the holidays!"
Save the date and buy the tickets - Northern California's flagship annual beer extravaganza, SF Beer Week, returns to the Bay Area with hundreds of events happening from Santa Cruz to Santa Rosa from January 22 to 31. Tickets to the SFBW Opening Gala on January 22 went on sale today, December 1. Pick them up here and now as this event sells out!