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slides: Oregon’s Seven Best Winter Warmer Ales

Tuesday, November 25, 2014


Photo Courtesy of Widmer Brewing Co.

On Saturday, September 6th I enjoyed my first winter warmer ale of the year. That’s right, no sooner than Labor Day had passed the first winter beers were on the shelf of Portland retailers.

That weekend, the Oregon Ducks were playing their first big game of the football season and it was well over 90 degrees. It didn’t quite feel like winter beer season. Belmont Station, Portland's preeminent bottle shop, had just received their first shipment of Jubelale the prior day. I was in heaven.  Alas, the days suddenly got a lot shorter and 90 degrees all too quickly dropped to freezing. Now it’s really time to enjoy them before they are gone.

See Slides Below: Oregon's Seven Best Winter Warmer Ales 

A brewery’s winter release doesn’t necessarily have to be in the category of Winter Warmer, and there seem to be few rules that define what one can call a winter warmer. It should be deeper and darker and is typically high in alcohol comparatively but that is about as far as the comparisons go.

Oh and do yourself a favor if enjoying one at home: be sure to pour it out of the bottle or can into a pint glass – or even a tulip if you have one.

Here are Oregon's seven best winter warmers to try this season. 

Jesse Cornett is a former publican and long time beer enthusiast.


Related Slideshow: Oregon’s Seven Best Winter Warmer Ales

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Ill Tempered Gnome

Ill Tempered Gnome has the deep tone of the brown ale that it is. There is nothing ill-tempered about this beer besides the name. Oakshire, still in the shadow of its Eugene neighbor/brewery Ninkasi (almost literally being just blocks apart), produces the best winter beer in the state outside of Bend.

ABV: 6.8%

Photo Courtesy of Oakshire Brewery 

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Double Mountain Fa La La

There’s just something about Double Mountain, a Hood River Brewery founded by Full Sail alumni. They refuse to follow convention and continue to create one of the most consistently good and underrated beer products in Oregon. Their winter seasonal Fa La La La La is a big malty hop bomb. Try it in their reusable 16.9 ounce bottle – that’ll give you an excuse to visit the brewery to get your deposit back and enjoy even more of their product lines.

ABV: 7.6%

Photo Courtesty of Hood River Brewery 

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Deschutes Jubelale

In its 27th year, “Jubel” reigns as the king of Oregon’s winter beers, if not all seasonal beers. It is a dark, malty ale that, like many seasonal beers, varies ever so slightly from year to year. A clever public relations blitz around the label art each year precedes its release and creates a buzz long before the released product can give you one.

ABV: 6.7%

Photo Courtesy of Deschutes Brewery

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10 Barrel Pray for Snow

While I picked up a six pack the night before this month’s anticipated blizzard, it did not work and there is no such beer as Pray for a Little Ice. Let’s hope AB/Inbev’s (Budweiser) recent purchase of Bend based 10 Barrel doesn’t impact the high quality of this beer in future years.

ABV: 7.6%

Photo Courtesty of 10 Barrel Brewery

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Sleigh’r Doüble Alt Ale

Cutely named to sound like metal band Slayer, there is nothing else cute about this deep dark double alt ale. Brewed in a more traditional German style, don’t let the festive label fool you. This one will leave your with a ringing noggin if you aren’t careful. Ninkasi’s Total Domination IPA is their best known product. The Sleigh’r is decidedly better.

ABV: 7.2%

Photo Courtesy of Ninkasi Brewery 

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Abominable Winter

Hopwork's "Abom," as it is known for short, is by style an IPA (albeit a dark one). This Portland brewery known for its love of sustainable practices as much as beer itself, shines through all seasons. Its winter beer makes the cut for a variety of reasons, including its availability in environmentally friendly “pounder” 16 ounce can (that happens to fit perfectly in the pocket of a ski jacket for use in case of a long chair lift ride).

ABV: 7.3%

Photo Courtesty of Hopworks

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Widmer Brrr

Widmer manages to make the hops shine in their winter seasonal, Brrr. Brrr, a red ale is of the lighter hued winter beers. Widmer has long proved that having corporate overlords as business partners doesn’t stop the production of a great product. Brrr boasts perhaps the coolest release party of any Oregon beer, taking over Grand Central Bowl annually for “The Big Chill” which features art, photo booths, bowling and of course BEER!.

ABV: 7.2%

Photo Couresty of Widmer Brewery 


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