What better way is there to celebrate the season than with a festive brew from a local Colorado brewery? With so many in the area, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with options, especially when they’re brewing these creative seasonal beers in addition to our year-round favorites!
We wouldn’t want you to miss out on any of these temporary treats; so we put together a list of our must-try seasonal beers and their best food pairings so you can take full advantage while they last.
Image Courtesy of Fort Collins Brewery
FCB’s take on a festive brew combines all our favorite things about the season: vanilla, chocolate and hazelnut coffee. Malt driven with just mild bitterness, sipping on this will definitely inspire you to get the sleds out!
Food Pairings: Duck Confit, Peanut Butter Brittle
Photo provided by New Belguim Brewing
To salute Colorado’s white winter flurries and to break the mold of dark winter beers, New Belgium brewed a white IPA. Layered with different flavors — including soft notes of citrus and fruit — this brew is sure to add some excitement to your holiday.
Food Pairings: Cheesy Enchiladas
Photo provided by Odell Brewing Company
Isolation Ale welcomes Colorado’s first snowfall each year and keeps us inspired all season long to get outside — whether you ski, shred or shoe. It’s a sweet, caramelly ale with a subtle hop finish.
Food Pairings: Isolation Ale Pork Green Chili
This double black IPA is available just in time for you to hunker down for the winter. Its roasted malt character and assertive hop finish will definitely warm you up this season!
Food Pairings: Pork Chops and Apple Relish
In farm to brewhouse style, Upslope uses organic baby bear pumpkins in this fall seasonal. Then, they add six secret spices to give the beer a classic fall taste and to round out the flavor profile.
Food Pairings: Grilled Ham, Roasted Vegetables, Apple Crisp
This is the ideal beer for spreading Christmas cheer. Its holiday aroma, ruby color and rich malt flavor fit perfectly with the festive holiday. In fact, the recipe is based off a home brew Upslope’s founder took to holiday parties!
Food Pairings: Sharp Cheddar, Steak, Chestnuts
Photos provided by Avery Brewing Company
Old Jubilation is a classic English Strong Ale. It has no extra spices, just five specialty malts brewed together for the perfect, simple holiday brew.
Food Pairings: Chicken and Biscuits
Photos provided by Boulder Beer Company
This artful IPA is available for nearly the entire Colorado ski season — or at least the coldest part of it. A full-bodied ale with a bold, piney hop kicker at the finish, this is sure to keep you warm!
Food Pairings: Roasted Pheasant with Steamed Root Vegetables
Only available through December, this barleywine is the perfect match for your holiday parties. It has a dark garnet red color with a sweet, candied-fruit aroma and flavor. Smooth and balanced, it’s even better during dessert!
Food Pairings: Butterscotch Mousse with Dark Chocolate
Photos provided by Left Hand Brewing Company
This dark beer welcomes the winter season with layers of flavor. It starts with a nut bread character and eases into notes of molasses and licorice. Before you’re done with your first sip you’ll taste an earthy hop finish and a black pepper flavor. Enjoy!
Food Pairings: Jerk Chicken, Savory Bread Pudding
Brewed for sweater weather, Hey! Pumpkin celebrates fall tradition. From its copper color to the real pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg and spice used in the recipe, this beer is a fall must-try. It’s only available through November, so get it while you can!
Food Pairings: Roasted Pears, Pecans and Balsamic Glaze on Thin Crackers
Strange Craft uses 450 pounds of pumpkin (45 pounds per barrel) to make their seasonal Pumpkin Porter. Its flavors include roasted chocolate, sweet toffee, spice and pumpkin, of course!
Food Pairings: Beef Short-rib
This beer was brewed big and hearty to keep you warm this winter. Colorado Beeyond the Hive Honey is added to a heavy malt recipe for sweeter and even warmer tones.
Food Pairings: Grilled Halibut with Pole Beans
Images provided by Great Divide Brewing Company
Hibernation has been a tradition at Great Divide Brewing since 1995. Its malty richness and complex hop character give it a hearty and warm profile perfect for Colorado’s cold winters.
Food Pairings: Grilled Beef Tenderloin, Apple Crisp and Ginger Ice Cream
Images provided by Great Divide Brewing Company
Oak Aged Yeti is the stronger, more sophisticated version of Great Divide’s Yeti Imperial Stout, available year-round. Oak aging adds a subtle vanilla character to the intense roastiness and huge hoppy nature.
Food Pairings: Grilled Flank Steak with Chimichurri, Roasted Asparagus and Pistachio Fudge Brownies
The Imperial takes the classic pumpkin porter to the next level. Chocolate, vanilla bean, spices and actual pumpkin flesh are combined to create a refreshing taste of autumn.
Food Pairings: Beef Roast and Steamed Carrots
Imperial Pumpkin is a new addition, inspired by Dry Dock’s popular Half Moon Pumpkin Ale. An Imperial version, this brew uses more malt than Half Moon, but still has real pumpkin in the recipe. Cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, mace and clove round out this strong, hearty beer.
Food Pairings: Roasted Turkey, Spicy Chili and Caramel Flan
Photos provided by Breckenridge Brewing
Breckenridge Brewing calls their Christmas Ale bottled joy to the world. At over 7% alcohol, this beer is strong and warm. Sip it by the fire this winter while you watch the snow fall. Keep an ear out for sleighbells!
Food Pairings: Christmas Ale Pork Chops
Photo provided by Tommyknocker Brewery
Tommyknocker Brewery’s seasonal dark brown ale is uncommonly smooth with layers of chocolate and coffee flavors. Pure cocoa powder and real honey are added for sweet and hearty notes that will leave you toasty.
Food Pairings: Elk Steak and Dark Chocolate Pudding
This classic pumpkin ale recipe starts with Baby Pam pumpkins grown at Venetucci Farm right in Colorado Springs. The pumpkins are picked by brewery staff, family and friends and roasted immediately. One of Bristol’s Community Ales, 100% of the proceeds from this brew go back to Venetucci Farm.
Food Pairings: Butternut Squash Empanadas
Bristol makes their winter seasonal brew with roasted barley malt and 150 pounds of oatmeal, making it smooth and exceptionally comforting. It’s the best beer for sipping at the bottom of the ski hill.
Food Pairings: Pork Tenderloin, Lobster
An ode to winter explorers, Crazy Mountain brews Snowcat with local artisanal roasted coffee and a complex blend of roasted malts. With a strong coffee character, it is made for exploring snow covered landscapes all day.
Food Pairings: Braised Lamb Shanks with Coriander, Fennel and Star Anise
Nothing represents harvest time better than Eddyline Brewing’s Pumpkin Patch Ale. Made with real pumpkin, a blend of seasonal spices and honey, it is a great complement to all your fall and winter meals.
Food Pairings: Roasted Turkey and Mashed Potatoes
We made sure the beers on our list is available in can, bottle or 22 oz. bomber. So have no fear, you’ll be able to find them this holiday season at liquor stores, bars and restaurants throughout Colorado.
Our favorite Fort Collins spot is Wilbur’s Total Beverage. The number one liquor store in town, Wilbur’s has a huge selection in every category and is stocked full of Colorado local products. Their wine, liquor and beer experts will help you locate many of the festive brews on our list and make sure they fit your taste.
Let us know if we missed your favorite holiday brew! And share your thoughts when you taste test each of our favorites.