After an unseasonably warm couple of weeks, the more normal late-fall chill has returned: time for cold weather brews. Picking from among the wide array of winter seasonals already available, I decided to go with something old (an American original), something local and something that goes against the grain, eschewing the typical malt overload.

2019 Anchor Christmas Ale, $12.49, 6-pack

Back in 1975, this was the first post Prohibition release of an American holiday ale. The formula changes every year, the 2019 being darker than most topped by a thick mocha-colored froth. Spicy aromas of caramel, espresso and dark chocolate segue into toasted malt with touches of orange zest, pine, chocolate and stone fruit.

Fort George Magnanimous IPA, 14.49, 4-pack

There’s an orange tinge to this hazy, golden brew with a two-finger head that collapses quickly, leaving a lovely lacing. The addition of Grand Fir tips from a local tree farm offers only a subtle influence. The aromas are a subdued mix of resiny hops and light berry. That carries through to the palate, a combo of lightly bitter hops and balancing malt.

Sockeye Winterfest, $9.49, 6-pack

This beer pours a deep, dark amber with a generous, light-tan head that persists through several sips. You get a rush of hops on the nose backed by a bit of molasses, maple and fig. The palate packs a wallop of hop bitterness as well (85 IBU), but once you get past that, the sweet malt kicks in. There’s a lot going on in the background with nuanced apple, berry, toffee and a kiss of rum. This is a big, bold brew from the home team.


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