Great Lakes Brewing Co. Christmas Ale
Sure, you can get this Cleveland-born beer in six-packs and on draft in November fairly easily, but half the fun associated with drinking the 7.5% ABV beer with fresh honey, cinnamon, and ginger flavors is attending the First Pour party at the brewery. In 2015, the free party was held on a morning in late October, and featured beer floats, cinnamon-sugar barley pretzels, and Christmas Ale sausage. Oh, and scads of people lining up waiting to get in.
Pelican Brewing Co. Mother of All Storms
Pacific City, OR
The weekend Mother of All Storms, a big 14ish% ABV barleywine aged in bourbon barrels, was released at the end of November 2015, the Pacific City, Oregon brewery's brewpub offered a breakfast buffet with beer pairings and a four-course brewers dinner. Last year it even had some previous year's Mother vintages for sale, if you happened to be living in one of those Kimmy Schmidt-type bomb shelters for years and were unable to buy the beer previously.
Goose Island Beer Co. Bourbon County Brand Stout
It says something to the power of this imperial stout that Goose Island can hold an event called Black Friday on Black Friday, and people show up in numbers that make you think they're waiting in line for a $2 TV at Walmart. Every year, multiple varieties of BCBS are released -- this past year, a barleywine, a rye stout with blackberry juice and cocktail cherries, and an Intelligentsia coffee stout (aka the best coffee beer in the country) made the grade. Guys Drinking Beer did a great rundown of the festivities this past year, so keep your eyes glued to their site for an overview of everything happening in 2016.
Central Waters Brewing Company Bourbon Barrel Stout
The Amherst brewery told us that its hugely popular 9.5% ABV imperial stout is usually released late fall/early winter, which is in line with the late-November release in 2015. Other varieties of the brewery's most popular beer include a barleywine, a cherry stout, and a Scotch ale... but those aren't the sought-after stout. So hold your horses and get ready for the real deal (probably by drinking those other ones).