Rauchbier/Smoked beer, 6%
Beside Die Hard, there are arguably few greater traditions that were born in the winter of 1988 than the release of Alaskan Brewing’s Smoked Porter. Thirty years and mountains of awards later, this beer has become the stuff of legends from Juneau to Jacksonville, and not just thanks to the changing complexities between vintages. Open any recently released bottle and you’ll immediately pick up a smokiness like sitting next to a roaring campfire, with flavors of strong cold-brewed coffee, bitter chocolate, and an underlying alcoholic warmth that could break through even the chilliest night in Talkeetna. Scoring a bottle of this year’s 30th anniversary release should be a top goal for anyone looking to complete a memorable vertical, but milestone birthdays aside, it’s still just a memorably great beer.
West Kill, New York
If you, like many others, take winter as an opportunity to ramp up your time in the kitchen, there’s a good chance you’re going to need more beers that will pair with the heavier dishes you’ll be cooking. That’s where Dark Hollow comes in, a pitch perfect winter beer from West Kills farm brewery in the heart of the Catskills. While this beer may have chocolate in its name and ingredient bill, it is *not* a pastry stout, playing more a part in the aroma than in the flavor of this well balanced beer. Medium bodied with roasty espresso flavors and a dry finish, it’s perfect alongside (or as an ingredient in) roasted meats, rich stews, or baked desserts. It’s also good on its own.