Style Profile: Winter Warmer

Posted on January 21st, 2010

Winter warmer is a traditional style of winter seasonal beers which can trace its origin back many centuries to the wassail beer punch served to holiday carolers in medieval England. Back then, ale was mixed with baked apples, cinnamon, ginger and other spices to create a delicious concoction that would warm you on the coldest winter nights. You can still make this wonderful beer cocktail yourself: check our article on the topic for more info and a recipe. Eventually, brewers began crafting beer that mimicked wassail style and flavor – brews that are sweet and malty with strong fruit and spice flavors. Traditionally, winter warmers have a medium body that’s extremely viscous. They are very sweet with little hop bitterness to them. They tend to be quite strong in alcohol, around 7 to 9%, which can be great on a frigid evening or anytime you want to relax.

Now there are many brewers who will make any ol’ beer they feel like and slap ‘winter warmer’ on the label. These beers can be great in their own way, but they can’t really be compared to more traditional winter warmers. Sam Adams Ol’ Fezziwig, which is only available in their holiday 12-packs, is probably the best American version of a true winter warmer. Across the Atlantic, Samuel Smith makes a great version known as “Winter Welcome” that’s worth a try. Avery’s Old Jubilation is also worth seeking out.  There are plenty of other great winter warmers out there, too.

What’s your favorite winter beer? Next time you try it let us know by tweeting your beer and adding the #mybeer hashtag.