It’s beginning to actually feel like winter in Chicagoland now and when the chilly temperatures arrive, that means it’s time to break out the winter warmers! Here are five beers from local breweries that I usually keep on hand to enjoy while getting the feeling back in my fingers after clearing snow.


Alter Brewing Company’s Swedda Wedda is not only fun to say – it’s really fun to drink too! Even at 6.0% ABV, you can usually start feeling the warmth pretty quickly. As an oatmeal stout, the layers of complexity really mask the higher ABV. With notes of chocolate, coffee, toffee, and vanilla, this smooth and creamy stout usually satisfies my craving for a hot chocolate.


Moody Tongue Winter Ale can only be found on draught but I think you’ll really enjoy it if you happen to be at a bar or restaurant that serves it. This 6.5% ABV Belgian-style dark ale has notes of toffee and candied orange peel along with cinnamon, cardamom, and ginger aromatics. As a Moody Tongue beer, it’s made to be paired with food. They suggest braised short rib, roast leg of lamb, a panettone, or date honey nut cake – anything rich and indulgent can work.

Spiteful Brewing’s Jingle Balls is a winter ale that comes in at 6.7% ABV and is perfect as an afternoon beer. Perfectly spiced with ginger, nutmeg, and cinnamon, this winter ale starts off as an amber ale made with Maris Otter malt so you know it’ll have a nice subtle sweetness to it.

Hopewell Brewing Company’s Long Shadows was something I’ve been waiting to crack open for the first substantial snowfall but I couldn’t wait that long. This red-hued Winter IPA is piney and citrusy with a toasty malt backbone. At 7.5% ABV, this IPA is a great pairing for a holiday roast or a beer to end the evening with.

Of course we had to include Goose Island Bourbon County Stout if we’re talking about local winter warmers because every single BCS is a great winter warmer. As the originators of the barrel aging style, their newest 2023 lineup was packed with great collaboration like the Bourbon County Brand Eagle Rare 2-Year Reserve Stout and Angel’s Envy 2-Year Cask Finish Stout but the one I look forward to most every year is their Proprietor’s. It’s usually the most experimental and most out of the box and I really enjoyed this year’s. Unofficially, I’m calling it the BCS Rice Pudding and I think it’s a perfect treat for the holidays. The toasted rice, vanilla custard, dried fruit, and spice flavors make me feel like I’m in a Dickens novel. At 14.3% ABV, it’s going to be a winter heater for some but it’s perfectly toasty for me.

Here’s the warmth scale just because I liked the way it looked. Maybe I’ll make a Winter Warmer Flight out of it!