Slowly but surely, our store shelves are being liberated from the tyranny of the Oktoberfests that have been taking up so much space over the past few months, their eclectic label designs doing little to disguise the fact that they all pretty much taste exactly the same. As temperatures continue to drop and the holidays loom just around the corner, we see the arrival of winter seasonals. And not a day too soon.
There are no strict guidelines for what qualifies as a winter seasonal, of course, as they can technically be categorized as any number of different styles. But they tend to be somewhat dark in color, relatively low in bitterness and heavily focused on the malt profile. There's a spiciness that pops up in some of them, and a warming quality that should be present in all of them. There are some duds among the options that are readily available in the city (Harpoon Winter Warmer, you are disgusting), but two of the best happen to be produced right here in our own backyard.