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.
Pyro De La Noche
Dark rye chili beer, 5.8%
A dark American rye chili beer? Say whaaaaat? Though Hop Dogma absolutely dominates the IPA genre, one of its most popular beers is the Pyro's Prost, an American rye chili beer with habaneros and jalapeños. For the colder months -- well, every month is cold in Half Moon Bay but you get the idea -- Hop Dogma added the roasted earthy character of chipotle peppers and swapped to Crystal rye for more smoke and a dark body. Don’t worry, it’s warm, but not “I need to jump into the ocean to stop the burn” hot.
Imperial porter, 9%
With 40lbs of graham crackers (yes f-o-r-t-y pounds of graham crackers used in the recipe!), and a little Madagascar vanilla bean to finish, this is definitely s’mores-inspired, but has way, way more to it than just a beer channeling our family camping trip days. Frankly, it’s not unlike a big ol’ mug of hot chocolate with a little spicy sass. By the way, this is Local’s first Christmas… major praise that it's got a heavy hitter seasonal beer like this out already.