When it comes to wintertime, stouts are as common as flight delays or dog sweaters. But fear not, beer-drinkers who stick with beverages on the more golden end of the spectrum. In recent years, brewers have been ramping up seasonal offerings that are a tad lighter but no less festive. Victory Brewing Company’s Winter Cheers—a Hazy Wheat Ale—is one such winter beer that delivers deep flavors at an ABV under 8%.
Beneath a half-inch foam head, Winter Cheers looks almost sunny. It’s that charming, light shade of golden wheat you’re more likely to find at a June cookout than a January anything. You won’t be seeing clearly through it. Instead, it has a haziness that will be a welcome site to any IPA-drinker.
But looks aren’t the only area where Victory has subverted expectations. Winter Cheers invites the kind of deep sniffs you’d take of more familiar winter whiffs like mulled cider or hot chocolate. Strong aromas of cloves and lemon make themselves known quickly; it’s almost as if Victory has taken those seasonal chai spices more often found in stouts and discovered a way to recreate that sensation here.
Winter Cheers may be the beer to satisfy even the most vocal winter seasonal Scrooge.”
Winter Cheers may have a summery core—Victory says this beer is rooted in Hefeweizen style—but it fits well for cold-weather drinking. Cloves and a general maltiness rule the first sip with touches of lemon and grass on the backend. This beer quickly fills your mouth, becoming almost creamy and lingering on the tongue with a slight bitterness. I’ve accidentally left numerous hefeweizens half-started on a Texas picnic table in the summer, but you won’t forget you’re drinking a Winter Cheers.
Winter Cheers may be the beer to satisfy even the most vocal winter seasonal Scrooge. Unlike many chai spice beers, this hazy wheat ale is not overly spiced, because the Victory team simply uses yeast and hops to approximate seasonal flavors rather than directly deploying the usual suspects during brewing. It’s light enough to be approachable for most, but full-bodied to warrant a warming mouthful. Maybe society can’t agree to hold the Christmas music ‘til after Thanksgiving, but we can all get behind Victory rolling this annual seasonal out as early as it likes.