Winter beers from local craft breweries skew dark, from stouts and porters to dark saisons or Belgians. These are created to help you through the colder times of year — calorie-rich beers that rarely shy away from high gravity. There are a lot of options to convince you to leave the house and brave the cool night air. We compiled a list of the best.
3rd Turn Brewing
Sunday Morning Sidewalk
With a pitch-black body and a tan foam cap, the Sunday Morning Sidewalk is heavy on flavor, featuring maple, vanilla and cold brew coffee. The balance is perfection, the difference between cloying or acidic between the two. It has a breakfast stout vibe. And at 12 percent ABV, this will get you there in a serious way, so the Sunday Morning merits slow sips in good company.
Akasha Brewing Co.
Russian Imperial Stout
The Russian Imperial Stout has a high ABV — 9.4 percent — and features notes of raisins. This is an imminently delectable beer, with an intense palate that invites you back to explore its mysteries. Sweet but not cloying, this rewards repeat sips, although caution should be heeded with any imperial brew.
Apocalypse Brew Works
The heaviest stout on the menu, the Tsar Bomba is a massive, 10 percent ABV beer with a booze-heavy edge. A pitch-black body with a stiff nose, there is a sweetness reminiscent of Worcester sauce — tangy and bitter.
Bluegrass Brewing Co.
A deep burgundy ale, the Jack Defrost is a spiced and malty winter brew. Here are notes of orange and coriander against a brown ale body and hearty and warmed tones. While the body is warming at 8.3 percent ABV with a low 34 IBU. The JDF features almost no head, with a fruited body. This is a delicious brew calming.
With a black and viscous body and a thick head, the KY Krunk is true to its word, because at 11 percent ABV, it will absolutely get you there. It has a strong malt and walnut nose, cut by a relaxed sweetness. Unlike other stouts, this is not rich, instead leaning heavily into subtler notes.This will certainly warm you up on cool winter days.
Donum Dei Brewery
A bourbon barrel-aged Scottish Ale, The Drunken Unicorn is a velvety take on Donum Dei Brewery’s standard Unicorn. This is an incredibly smooth beer, without a lot of movement in the body. Still, this is anything but flat. It’s a vibrant beer that’s traveled through the bourbon-barrel aging process. The malty and smoked notes from the Scottish Ale body are accented by the bourbon, making for a rich flavor palate. At approximately 13 percent ABV, this is a shareable brew, perfect in bomber form.
Falls City Brewing Co.
This Belgian winter white has a distinct tang, a Belgian yeast vibe that adds flavor. There is the hint of a fruit, a spiced body with a seasonal flare, that never overwhelms. This is relaxing and calming, a fireplace beer that remains sessionable at 5.5 percent ABV.
False Idol Independent Brewers
An English Mild, the Friar features a burnt auburn body and low 3.3 percent ABV, making this by far the lightest beer on this list. This is a day drinker. Capped with a soft, beige foam, featuring a subtle hop head, the Friar has a crisp and inviting taste, with a soft tang on the back end, and a wheat pop at the front.
Flat 12 Bierwerks Jeffersonville
Pinko Death Bear
A Russian Imperial Stout Aged in Wild Turkey barrels, the Pinko Death Bear is intense. There is an astringency to the nose that translates into the body, possibly from the wood from the barrels. You can catch hints of chocolate notes in aroma that certainly comes through once you take a drink. This is velvety smooth, a brew with a complex flavor. With a pitch-black body and a fine ring of soft tan foam, this is heavy at 10.5 percent ABV.
Floyd County Brewing Co.
Barrel-aged, the Breakfast Stout has an obsidian body with a lightly-tanned foam ring, clinging the periphery of the head. You gets notes of licorice and dark malts at the nose that disappear into the drink. This is rich with a wild array of tastes, mixing — admirably — hazelnut coffee and subtle hints of vanilla. There is a dry brut quality to the aftertaste, made all the more enticing by the flavor bed. At 8.5 percent ABV, this is not for lightweights, so this is best appreciated sipped or shared.
A malty and ripe gooseberry flavor greets you at the front end of this brew, a subtle cascade of flavors cut by a stiff stout body. A bourbon barrel-aged brew, this is the cream of Goodwood’s winter crop, a lovely beer with a diverse flavor palate. This is reminiscent of a red brew, with notes of charred malt and the creamy texture part and parcel there. The body is even a reddish hue, capped with a soft foam cap across the head. This is a warming beer that, at 6.5 percent will get you where you need to be, without ever overwhelming you.
Gravely Brewing Co.
Grounded Coffee Stout
The Grounded Coffee Stout has a slightly acidic coffee nose, with a deep brown, although not quite black body, and a thin foam ring. The coffee flavors are rich and robust, a wonderfully inviting beer with a low, 5.1 percent ABV.
Great Flood Brewing Co.
Coffee and Maple Porter
The maple presence is abundant at the nose, and remains a strong element of the body. A tricky adjunct, the maple component is balanced against the coffee to create a mellow flavor. The body is pitch black, capped with a thin tan foam that drifts ghostly over the head. At 6 percent ABV, this is a sessionable brew.
A Belgian Dubbel, the Vespers is a malt-rich beer that greets you at the nose with notes of burnt amber and subtle hints of sweetness. A deep burgundy body with a light foam lattice, the Vespers is a smooth beer with notes of chocolate and orange peel, which balance beautifully. At a 6 percent ABV, this is a wonderful alternative to the stouts and porters.
Mile Wide Beer Co.
An imperial version of the McPoyle Milk Stout, the RP carries a heavy 12 percent ABV, which will certainly get you where you need to be. Nitro infused, this is silky smooth, a pitch-black velvet pour that goes down far smoother than the ABV may otherwise imply. The RP plays to the strengths of the base stout, enhancing the creaminess of the body in direct proportion to the licorice-heavy notes.
Monnik Beer Co.
A Belgian triple, the Noël clocks in at 10 percent ABV. As such, the Christmas cheer will absolutely hit you by the bottom of the glass, so make sure you have a ride. Lavender and ginger are the adjuncts, which add to an already smooth body for a spiced punch.
New Albanian Brewing Co. Pizzeria & Public House
An amber brown body with a beige foam lattice, the Fireside Tales is a barleywine with a sweet nose. At 9.6 percent ABV, this is nothing to sneeze at, a dark English-style take. There is a malted richness cut by the sweetness that never overstays its welcome.There is an astringent quality that recalls the subtle vinegar notes of wood-aged beers, but without the oaky flavors usually associated with the process.
Old Louisville Brewery
Horchata Milk Porter
The Horchata Milk Porter sports a deep walnut brown hue with a soft, light tan cap. The horchata notes lend themselves to a delightfully vanilla nose, a creamy scent that hints at a richness of the body. Balanced ably by notes of cinnamon and nutmeg, there is a slight burn going in, which leads to a soft aftertaste. At 6.9 percent ABV, this is a little high for a session, but it’s a perfect one to leave you with a nice glow.
Red Foot Brewing Co.
There is an almost buttery nose to the head that implies a creaminess. Capped with a light foam lattice, gently fading to a mist across the head, the Three Magi is a Belgian Trippel that bends the rules of the craft without breaking it. There is a blunted coriander taste at the front end, and a sublime aftertaste. Despite 10 percent ABV, there isn’t a high alcohol vibe. This is a great winter warmer.