‘Tis the saison

As the days get shorter and the nights get cold, the desire to throw on a sweater and plop down in front of a roaring fire increases. That’s great and all, but I offer a more enjoyable and tasty route to warming yourself this chilly season: the beer blanket.

We are fortunate enough to live in the Pacific Northwest, which boasts more seasonal brews than one would have the time, money or stomach volume to try. The great thing about the winter season is that beers are thankfully designed to put a fire in your belly as well as give you a solid buzz.

So sit back, sip a winter warmer and enjoy. Cheers!


Deschutes Brewery
60 IBU
6.7% ABV

If you’re looking for an unintimidating entry to winter brews, look no farther than the Jubelale from Deschutes Brewery. Its flavors are a little subtler and less overbearing than others, but you’ll still get hints of chocolate, caramel, coffee and spices. The label artwork changes year to year and is almost worth picking up for that reason alone. A staple in Northwest seasonals, the Jubelale is a safe grab for anyone cold desiring to warm themselves with some quality liquid cheer.

The Abominable Winter Ale

Hopworks Brewery
70 IBU
7.3% ABV

The Abominable Winter Ale has been set free by Hopworks and currently is in the midst of unleashing its tasty terror on the Pacific Northwest. Made with Chinook, Cascade, Centennial and Simcoe hops, the Abominable lashes out with a bitter and malty serving of warming liquid with a hearty serving of fruitiness.

It’s really more of a year-round IPA than anything else, so the Abominable is a safe start for people easily intimidated by the hearty and heavy punch of most snow time brews. It’s also worth mentioning that there’s an adorable yeti on the can—so that doesn’t hurt.

Sleigh’r Dark Double Alt Ale

Ninkasi Brewing Company
50 IBU
7.2% ABV

The Sleigh’r Dark Double Alt Ale is the one seasonal beer I wish I could have year round. It packs all the burning punch you’d want from a winter ale, but doesn’t necessarily have the dominating bitter bite. It pours dark and has a malty flavor with hints of caramel and grain. If the label art is any indication, I imagine Santa adding some holiday cheer in his life with this brew after a night of getting his ass handed to him delivering presents. The Sleigh’r should definitely be a go-to as the temperatures plummit this season.

Festeroo Winter Ale

Hop valley Brewing Co.
60 IBU
7.3% ABV

The Festeroo is Hop Valley’s take on an English-style old ale. This beer pours to a dark brown color with a bubbly tan head that dissipates fairly quickly. The taste transitions from malty beginnings with hints of fruit to classic winter-style bitters. It’s got a fair amount of bitterness to it, which is clear from the IBU, but the alcohol content is sneaky. The Festeroo packs all the punch you’d expect and want from your winter beers. It’s one of the smoother drinks on this list, so it makes for easy drinkability and a shortened time to achieving that desired beer blanket.

The Abyss

Deschutes Brewery
86 IBU
11% ABV

As you enter the inescapable downward spiral of cold weather and darkness, you are greeted with The Abyss. As dark, deep and complex as a cross between Lovecraft and Dostoyevsky, this Imperial Stout welcomes you in your most desperate chilly hour. With an 11% ABV, it doesn’t so much warm you as it does envelope your stomach in a wreath of flame. It’s heavy, but what else would you expect from a beer boasting flavors of molasses and licorice. This brew is currently on a limited release, so you might have to work hard to find The Abyss. But then again, maybe you don’t find The Abyss. Maybe The Abyss finds you.