New Year’s Eve is synonymous with champagne; flutes being held high in a toast as the year winds down to its final moments, ready to ring in a new one. With so many options in styles and flavor profiles, craft beer has earned its right to space in the ice bucket for possibilities when hosting your glass in the air. While the beer list for Chicago Ale Fest is still in the finalization process, we’ve put together a collection of beers from the breweries and cideries attending the festival for you to enjoy at your New Year’s Eve get-together.
1: Sam Adams Winter Lager
This Sam Adams seasonal is a dark wheat bock that clocks in at a sessional 5.6% ABV. Fit for the holidays, this winter lager has a spicy aroma with notes of mild ginger, cinnamon and raw malts with a hint of citrus bitterness. It’s dark amber color is a good foreshadow to the malty, bread crust notes on first sip. Light in body, the citrusy overtones take over with a bitter, but smooth finish. This lager is big on flavor but an easy drinker that should keep you in the celebratory mood all night.
Top 5 Beers to Bring to Your New Year’s Eve Party
- Half Acre Lead Feather American Black Ale
Big on roasted malts and hops, this black ale from Chicago’s own Half Acre Beer Co. leaves little to be desired from a seasonal brew. Lead Feather packs an aromatic punch with dry roasted malts and a hint of coffee and licorice. With a light and inviting mouthfeel, you get the malty character you expect from the nose but are also met with some nice contrasting hop bitterness all in a silky smooth, creamy finish. The balance of malt and hops offers depths that make this beer unique and at 6% ABV, you can enjoy enough to remember your midnight toast.
- Anchor Brewing Christmas Ale
An iconic Christmas Ale from one of the country’s oldest breweries. The Anchor Brewing Christmas Ale is brewed just once a year with a different recipe and features beautiful new artwork each time it’s released. 2016 marks the 42nd annual release of this Anchor tradition which brings a complex, full-flavored yet subtle brew. Notes of bitter chocolate, toffee, holidays spices and a green hops round out the nuanced nose while it pours a dark cola-colored brown topped by a big, fluffy tan head. Exceptionally soft, this 6.5% ABV winter warmer tastes of dry, toasty malts, smoke and stone fruit for a rich, distinctive sip. There’s no better way to get into the spirit of the season than with this ever-evolving beer.
- Noon Whistle Bernie Milk Stout
Every bit a hop forward milk stout, this Noon Whistle brew is available year-round and is an exceptionally dark pour with a brown fluffy head. Coffee, roasted malts and bitter chocolate are most apparent on the nose while first sip brings heavy malt and coffee flavor up front, a freshly bitter middle and a slightly sweet finish. Although Bernie has a bit less sweetness than your typical milk stout, drinks medium-bodied for drinkable stout that can pass a dessert beer without being too filling.
- Angry Orchard Stone Dry Cider
For those who may want not want to stray too far from Champagne traditions, there’s Angry Orchard’s Stone Dry cider. Like it’s name implies, this cider is the driest that Angry Orchard has to offer and is their take on traditional English dry ciders featuring Dabinett, Binet Rouge and Harry Masters apple varieties. The combination balances apple tannins and acidity for clean, refreshing and dry cider. With slight notes of honey on the nose, high carbonation and a dry, wine-like finish, Stone Dry might just be the next best option to standard glassed filled with Champagne bubbles.