Welcome to the Berghoff Beer Blog. With over 120 years in the industry, we're here to provide you with inside knowledge on all things beer related as well as our unique perspective on the Beer industry. Beer News, Reviews, and more.

What Makes Beer A Winter Warmer?

What Makes Beer A Winter Warmer?
Though we love drinking in any season, there’s something incredibly comforting about sipping on a strong winter warmer in the dead of winter. And we aren’t the first ones to realize this. For hundreds of years, people have been brewing strong beer for the cold months of fall and winter.

What really makes winter warmers stand out from other beers is their strong malt backbone and high alcohol content. Winter warmers typically pack a 5.5 to 8% ABV, so you can sometimes taste a nice alcoholic kick.

Let’s take a closer look at winter warmer history and characteristics to better understand the delicious brew.

A Brief History of Winter Warmer Beer

It’s hard to keep your finger on the history of a winter warmer. Beer with winter warmer characteristics have been brewed for centuries across the world, especially for winter festivals. Ever since brewers had the ability to do so, they made strong, full-bodied beers to keep them warm and merry during winter festivities.

The Romans and the Norsemen celebrated the coming of winter with huge feasts and celebrations that included lots of alcohol. Though the Romans thought beer was inferior to wine (blasphemy!), they did help to spur on the tradition of drunken winter festivities. And the Norsemen had many a beer-fueled celebration with the coming of the longest night of the year. Of course, earlier cultures celebrated the coming of winter as well. And we’ve been celebrating with beer ever since.

Winter Warmer Characteristics

Now that you have a general idea of the history of winter warmers, it’s time to help you identify them. Many brewers disagree on the defining characteristics of winter warmers, despite how popular they are. However, they are almost always stronger than a brewery’s regular beers, typically ranging from 5.5 to 8% ABV. On rare occasions, they can even reach 10% ABV.

Another notable feature of winter warmers is their big malt flavor and body. There’s very little hop bitterness in this beer. But if you do manage to taste the flavor of hops in your winter warmer, it will be well balanced. It shouldn’t overcome the malty sweetness of the beer. Some American brewers tend to hop their winter warmers up a bit to give them a more bitter flavor.

Winter warmers can vary in color, from a reddish brown to black. Though many American brewers add spices to their version of the beer, many English winter warmers have no spices at all. When they do add spices, the English tend to use a simple variety. Americans are typically more eclectic in their choice of spices.

Now that we’ve worked up your appetite for winter warmers, it would be rude not to offer you a fine winter brew. At 7% ABV, our Winter Ale is packed with six sweet and delicious malts for aromatic complexity, along with cookie, caramel, raisin and toasted marshmallow notes. You can get your hands on this sweet winter warmer by using our beer finder below!