Houston’s warm climate in the fall and winter months might not always lend itself to cozying up by the fire with a hot chocolate in your hands, but how about a night on the patio with friends sipping a cool, craft beer?
Several breweries in the Houston area offer seasonal flavors to keep your spirits merry and bright through the holidays. Here’s a preview of what’s on tap.
The state’s oldest craft brewery has five holiday beers that will be released now through December, beginning with the Christmas Ale. You can sample its malty sweetness and spicy hop character on draft now at the Saint Arnold brewery, in bars or look for it in stores.
The Christmas Ale takes on two more forms in the Bishop’s Barrel No. 19 (a one-time release out now in select stores and bars) and Christmas Ale Cut with Bread Pudding. The former is aged in Chardonnay barrels for 21 months with 42 pounds of sour cherries and three strains of wild yeast -- known for bringing a “funky” flavor.
Meanwhile, you might have the online community to thank for the creation of the Christmas Ale Cut with Bread Pudding. According to the brewery, it refers to a discussion on Reddit, where a man thought they were using bread in their beer! Not quite – but you can taste the vanilla bean and cinnamon in this ale when it hits shelves around December 4 in 22 oz. bombers.
If you’re circling days on your beer-release calendar, go ahead and pencil in Icon Blue Hugo’s Chocolate Milk Stout made with Chef Hugo Ortega's Mexican chocolate tablets. Accented with notes of toffee, stone fruit and cinnamon, this chocolate milk stout balances the sweetness with hops and a roast bitterness. It’s set to come out in mid-December as a one-time release in stores.
The crisp, citrusy Belgian-style White Noise should be out around December 15 and available through February.
For the Houstonians who want to take a holiday trip down under, the Australia- influenced Platypus Brewing has three seasonal flavors, starting with the Oh My Rye IPA. This beer is slightly spicy from the rye complimented with citrusy hops. Next up is the Bears, Beets, Battlestar Galactica beer brewed with beets, sage and rosemary – good for a Thanksgiving pairing. Finally, you know winter is coming when the brewery’s Sour Brown Ale blended with cherries comes out in December. You can find these beers at Platypus. Though most of their beers are available at about 60 bars throughout the greater Houston area, note that finding the seasonal flavors can be hit or miss.
Holler doesn’t tend to have seasonal releases, but they do still have two new offerings that’ll make you want to shout. Swing by their taproom Wednesday-Sunday to try the Black Sunshine IPA – a rich, complex drink with a chocolate and fruit body, a pronounced bitterness and a clean finish. Holler’s Pacific Hazebro IPA is made with New Zealand hops and boasts a tropical aroma, with notes of passionfruit and guava. Its finish is slightly bitter.
This local brewery recently announced the release of Cranberry Wit, a Thanksgiving-themed beer with cranberry, rosemary and juniper berries. The best part? It's available now.
This EaDo brewery has just the drink to help carry you through the winter season. The Dream Shake American Stout is described as a “rich, malty beer that is strong and elusive” with notes of chocolate and coffee. It’s available December 1.
Become a craft brew insider with the Houston Brew Pass. Gain 1-day, 3-day or 90-day access through 6 local breweries (some of which are included on this list.) All profits from the passes go toward Mayor Sylvester Turner’s Hurricane Harvey Relief Funds. You can also plug into Houston’s craft brew scene and find a list of breweries in the Houston area by heading over to our Beer Nut page.