While the frigid air and permanent darkness make it easy to dread winter in New York, any beer-lover will tell you that the coldest months bring out the best in breweries. Although they range widely, most winter beers tend to be smoother, richer, and stronger in the ABV department. As visions of nutty stouts danced in our heads, we met up with the New York City Brewers Guild to sample some of the best locally-made winter seasonals and take a closer look at the city's scene.
Some other can’t-miss pints include:
Rockaway Brewing Company Scotch Ale: Aged in Kings County bourbon barrels and based off of a traditional Scottish recipe, Rockaway’s Scotch Ale has a full, spiced flavor and a lighter body than most other winter beers. Balanced and far from bitter, it drinks easy and intoxicates quickly at 8.2% ABV. Rockaway Brewery was started a year and a half ago by two home-brewing friends and currently operates a taproom in Long Island City.
Heartland Brewery Old Red Nose and Farmer John’s Oatmeal Stout: Old Red Nose will keep your days merry and bright. Heartland’s holiday favorite is a classic British winter warmer spiced with cinnamon, orange, and ginger.
Heartland also brings some joy to the world with the tequila barrel-aged Farmer John’s Oatmeal Stout. Like a rich mocha chased with a shot of reposado, this stout starts smooth and finishes with a sneer. Heartland Brewery serves multiple locations across Manhattan and is headed up by Kelly Taylor, who also manages Kelso Beer.
City Island Black Ale: Looking like a tall glass of cold press coffee and tasting like a minty, spiced chocolate malt, City Island’s Black Ale is the kind of smooth seasonal you can (and should) drink all night. This malty treat is brewed in Seaport, Bronx.
Chelsea Brewing Company Black Hole XXX Stout: Brewed by the piers in—you guessed it—Chelsea, this is a stout that sticks around. Chelsea’s Black Hole XXX has a nutty, roasted malt taste that lingers long after each blissful sip, and a full, creamy texture. Others at the table will definitely catch on to this stout’s vanilla and nut aroma—and immediately scramble for one of their own.