The term “winter warmer” means basically nothing in the brewing lexicon. There are no style definitions, no Brewers Association guidelines, and no awards specifically for the best-made examples. Simply put, a winter warmer is a beer best drunk in winter.
For 15 years, Rush River’s Winter Warmer has been fortifying chilly drinkers throughout the midwest. Though I’ve been waylaid by this 8% ABV Scotch ale before, the beer is ultimately a force of good—a torch guiding you through the darkest days of December.
Come in from shoveling the driveway, and there are few sights quite as welcoming as a freshly poured pint of Winter Warmer. The beer is a tawny, majestic brown, the same color as praline. A scarlet tinge emerges if you hold your glass to the light.
Saint Bernards should patrol Wisconsin with barrels of Winter Warmer strapped to their necks.”
The River Falls, Wisconsin brewery backs its winter seasonal with loads of freshly crumbled toffee and graham cracker aroma. You get whiffs of chocolate and coffee too, making Winter Warmer a noseful of dessert. The beer also makes use of “Old World hops,” meaning Rush River has given this ale a dose of European herbacity.
Caramel and hot booze: Those are the first two things that come to mind when sipping Winter Warmer. Perhaps it’s an instinctual, nostalgic response. You also get toasty, nutty malt and a very light spice flavor. It’s a perfect Yuletide combination.
Since the so-called winter warmer style is missing its archetype, Rush River’s Winter Warmer could be that exemplar, and for good reason. Winter Warmer forms a liquid thermal lining on your body, warming you to your very core. Saint Bernards should patrol Wisconsin with barrels of Winter Warmer strapped to their necks.