Seasonal-flavored beers, much like seasonal cookies and sugary coffee beverages, are inevitable staples of the winter season that tend to be overhyped and overpowering. But when a good pie-inspired beer comes along, it’ll have you reaching for your favorite chunky sweater even if it’s unseasonably hot out. That is, if you can put your ego aside.
Perhaps due to our cultural obsession with trying to have nothing in common with teenage girls, seasonal beers, like pumpkin, pine, juniper and gingerbread have gotten a bad rap for being kitschy or just #basic and not for serious beer drinkers. Even Brooklyn Brewery pokes fun at their own Post Road Pumpkin Beer, listing one of its ideal pairings as “Instagram.” There’s long been a cult of snobbery—and masculinity—railing against sweet and flavored beers in favor of the IBUs, baby. But something about holiday season beer is just repugnant to some in the craft beer community.
“Everyone is leaning hard away from pumpkin beers now,” according to one bearded salesman at a beer shop in Manhattan. “Chances are, anyone brewing pumpkin beers now, either it’s long been a part of their lineup, or they’re an asshole.”
Harsh words for a gourd. Something about years of marketing teams shoving overpowering flavors down our throats has made beers timed for the winter season the subject of revile—but it’s not as though craft brewers steer clear of seasonal brews, by any means. Locavore brewers are in fact particularly wont to experiment with ingredients that are only available seasonally and regionally. Plus, beers are more likely to be brewed with the real thing as opposed to artificially flavored syrups found in Starbucks drinks and other kinds of seasonal goods.
Roasty, toasty cookie and botanical flavors are expected, but Brooklyn’s craft beer scene is rarely one to lean on the expected without adornment. This year, keep your eyes peeled for a few interesting combinations that spark new life into old classic notes.
Here are some of the stars of the season from Brooklyn’s craft breweries:
KCBC Wolf Ov Siberia
A new brew from the Bushwick brewery featuring lots of citrus to complement the sharpness of the pine notes. It’s unexpectedly bright and refreshing for a winter beer.
Other Half Velvet Magnum II Macadamia Coconut Squares Imperial Stout
As the name suggests, this limited brew is meant to taste something like the seasonal cookies everyone clamors over in the office kitchenette.
Coney Island Superfreak
This pumpkin beer was introduced earlier in the fall, but it’s craveable at least as long as pumpkin pie is (which is through winter, if you ask me). Brewed with coffee by Café Grumpy, it’s a creative spin on the pumpkin category.
Photo courtesy of Facebook/Kings County Brewers Collective.