Evil Twin and Westbrook’s annual collaboration is always one worth seeking out, and this year’s pairs up two of the breweries’ most popular creations: South Carolina-based Westbrook’s Mexican Cake (an imperial stout brewed with cocoa nibs, vanilla beans, cinnamon sticks, and fresh habanero peppers) and Denmark-based Evil Twin’s Biscotti Break (an imperial stout brewed with vanilla, almond, and coffee). The resulting beer, Mexican Biscotti Cake Break, is an 11 percent ABV imperial stout with coffee, cinnamon, almonds, cocoa nibs, vanilla, and jalapeño. It’s thick and chewy, slightly spicy, and an absolute flavorbomb.
One of America’s most beloved beers, Bourbon County Stout is making its much-welcome return for another winter season. To kick this rich, dark, Bourbon barrel-aged imperial stout up a couple additional notches, four different varieties are available this year: Original, Barleywine, Coffee (brewed with Intelligentsia coffee), and Proprietor’s (with chipotle peppers and cocoa nibs, aged in Bourbon barrels that previously stored maple syrup, available only in Chicago).
Brown ales aren’t as trendy as IPAs and other hop-forward beers these days, but the brown ale that Pennsylvania-based Old Forge is the best of both worlds. It’s a cross between a brown ale and an IPA, getting roastiness from dark caramel and chocolate malts, bitterness from ample hops, and sweetness from a little brown sugar.
California-based Stone’s winter seasonal is Xocoveza, a “winter-spiced mocha stout” that was inspired by Mexican hot chocolate and coffee. A one-time-only offering turned yearly tradition, it’s brewed with cocoa, Mostra coffee, pasilla peppers, vanilla, nutmeg, and lactose to boost the creaminess. The 8.1 percent ABV beer is smooth and full-bodied, well-balanced, and complex.
Orange County’s The Bruery’s fall seasonal is brewed with 15 pounds of yams per barrel, along with cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, vanilla, nutmeg, and maple syrup. At 10 percent ABV it packs a wallop, and the use of traditional Belgian yeast gives it a spicy note. Definitely a good one to bring to a holiday dinner.