The calendar tells us that today is the first day of spring, but depending where you are in the world, it might not be the best time to break out the tees and sockless shoes just yet. Since those crisp session beers that cry out for more temperate conditions might not be ready for their day in the sun either, why not take the opportunity to warm your bones one more time (or two, or three) with the sweet heat of a high-ABV beer?
Here are some of the best ones we’ve tried so far this year.
Surly Brewing’s Darkness 2018 (12% ABV)
If you can get your hands on a bottle of the most recent iteration of Darkness, sell your soul for it, says Jerard Fagenberg. “Hellish branding aside, this is a very congenial beer—one that provides sweetness and comfort in place of fire and brimstone. Abandon all skepticism, ye who purchase. Darkness 2018 subs in delight for despair.”
Foothills Brewing Co.’s Sexual Chocolate (9.6% ABV)
“It’s apparent from the strong aroma what Sexual Chocolate is all about: booze and chocolate,” says Tucker Anders. “It tastes like a bitter dark chocolate truffle filled with bourbon-and-espresso-flavored chocolate mousse. So, yeah, it’s really damn good.”
Oskar Blues and Cigar City’s Bamburana (12.2% ABV)
Bamburana is “a dream companion to a dessert course or sipped slowly as a nightcap,” according to our reviewer Tom Thornton. “Do you like spice cake? How about sticky toffee or rum raisin bread pudding? It’s all lingering in the sweet nose of Bamburana.”
Lagunitas Willitized Coffee Stout (12.9% ABV)
“Drinkers will find plenty of boozy warmth here, with the rye whiskey barrels adding vanilla, caramel, and fig flavors,” says Tom Thornton. “If you lean toward a sweeter stout, this is the barrel-aged beer for you.”
Bell’s Brewery’s Expedition Stout (10.5% ABV)
Expedition Stout “has notes of leather, caramel, fudge and umami,” writes Charlie Crespo. “Above all that, however, is booze, making it no secret that you’re about to drink something that is 10.5% ABV.” While you could absolutely drink this beer now, it’ll be even better if you age it.