As the days get shorter and the chill sets in, it's time to cozy up with some winter beers. Picture yourself by the fire, snowflakes outside, and a SUB filled with robust winter brews. If you're looking to crack open a seasonal favourite or discover an all-new winter beer, you’ve come to the right place. From traditional Belgian brews to malty ales and hearty stouts, you can always embrace the warmth of winter with our special selection.  

What is winter beer? 

Winter beer is not a beer style in the traditional sense. It's simply beer that’s been brewed for colder climates. These brews are often strong beers — heavier, darker, and spicier than your typical lagers or pale ales. They often boast a higher alcohol content and more intense, smoky, malt and even tart flavours. When it comes to aromas, think of an open fire, coffee, dark chocolate, leather, wood, liquorice, and traditional winter spices (like the ones in mulled wine). 

What foods go with winter beers? 

The hearty, full-bodied nature of winter beers means that they go amazingly well with strong cheeses. A stout or porter, for example, will complement a full-fat blue beautifully. If you’ve got a big bold 10% barley wine in your cellar, drink it with an old Amsterdam cheese. Alternatively, try a Belgian quadrupel with a young Manchego for one of the best pairings going! Beer and cheese? Yes, please!  

What do people mean by the term 'winter warmer beer'? 

A winter warmer beer is a generic term used to describe many winter brews. A lager is a more obvious summer choice because it’s lighter, colder and more refreshing. Winter beers are made to keep us warm during those long, cold, dark winter nights. 

The emphasis is usually on malt with winter beers, where summer beers focus on keeping things fresh, light and fruity. The more malt that's added, the more sugar can be fermented, which makes winter beers sweeter and stronger, often resulting in a pair of warm rosy cheeks.  


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How do you drink winter beers? 

You should enjoy winter beers slowly. Don’t be fooled by their sweetness. They can be deceptively strong. Also, you don’t want to drink winter beer too cold, otherwise the aromas cannot develop. A good starting point for temperature is the alcohol content. It should be roughly the same. A beer of 6%, for example, should be no colder than 6 degrees. 

You can find more tips in our article all about beer serving temperature. 


What are the best winter beers? 

The variety of winter beers is huge (including specially made beers for Christmas), although the following styles are some of the most popular: 

  • Porter and stouts: dark, malty brews with notes of caramel, coffee or chocolate and a little more alcohol than usual. 
  • Bock beers: big in the Netherlands and Germany, bock beers are full-bodied and quite thick and come in a huge variety (Doppelbock, Eisbock, Weizenbock etc.) 
  • Barley wine: made with lots of malt so that more sugar can be fermented, barley wine has a sweet, malty taste and a balancing hoppy finish with an alcohol content similar to wine. 
  • Dubbel, Tripel and Quadrupels: typical trappist and abbey beers using Belgian yeasts, fruity notes and a caramel-like sweetness to create fascinatingly complex aromas. 
  • Barrel-aged beer: often aged in bourbon, rye, and sometimes wine barrels, these are perfect for chilly winter days because of their complexity, sturdiness, and warming embrace.  

Are there festivals for winter beers? 

If winter beers are really your thing, there are plenty of festivals that specifically focus on winter beers. They often feature a selection of seasonal and specialty winter warmer beer, spiced ales, stouts, porters, and other styles that are associated with the winter season. Winter beer festivals are held around the world, including the UK, Denmark, Canada and the USA.