Bourbon barrel-aged imperial brown, 12%
OK, so some of these “winter beers” are hoppy or light, which is perfectly fine. Sometimes, though, you just want the big stuff, the good stuff, or Good Conduct stuff. Good Conduct is a tremendously balanced, unique genre that kind of combines the best worlds of a brown and barleywine, and doesn’t skimp on the Vermont maple syrup element like many other maple beers (looking at you Bruery Autumn Maple).
Smoked altbier, 6.5%
Fort Point’s Manzanita is mostly a year-round offering, but cries out “winter warmer,” while effortlessly balancing the best elements of charred manzanita branches with a beechwood-smoked malt base. The first time I sampled this a year ago was one of those “whoa hot diggity” moments. Since this is San Francisco, I’ll speak in cocktail terms. We’re talking about a balanced mezcal cocktail-level smokiness, not a Laphroaig old fashioned. I should mention this is a collaboration with Freigeist, one of Germany’s game-changing small breweries.