Best Winter Beers

They pair well with the offseason. Or as a post-run recovery drink. Check out our reviewer’s top five seasonal brews.

The holidays can be a pretty tricky time of year for runners. During this season, usually an off-season, we swap out the racing shoes and bib numbers for ice packs and ankle braces in an effort to finally heal nagging injuries we’ve pushed through all year. Or, well, we’re just tired of training and need to let our bodies recoup. As great as recovery is, an abundance of carb-filled, sugary food at workplace potlucks and Christmas parties make us feel (extra) guilty for missing a day of pounding the pavement.

And then there are the coolers full of holiday beers and decadent dishes at family get-togethers. We might be concerned about over-indulging, especially given the rich, creamy nature of those tempting winter brews.

But it’s OK.

We runners have worked hard, and many of us will be gearing up for another round of training starting Jan. 1. So don’t resist. Instead, kick back next to the fire, put your training worries aside, and enjoy one of these tried-and-true winter-themed brewskies. You’ve earned it.

Top Seasonal Beers

Alaskan Winter by Alaskan Brewing Company

In a lineup of winter beers sometimes dominated by heavy hitters that leave you feeling overly-full, this refreshing ale will mix up your holiday flight. A little heavier on the malt character, this beer is brewed with spruce tree tips straight from the Alaskan wilderness and has a crisp finish with a hint of citrus guaranteed to make you crave another. And another. And another. ABV: 6.4 percent

Insanely Bad Elf by Ridgeway Brewing

The name says it all. It might take wandering around the Christmas aisle of your local liquor store to find a bottle, but it’s hard to go wrong with a series that has a deranged rendition of Santa’s little helper restrained in a straight jacket on the label. Brewed in England, this imperial red ale pours and tastes more like a barley wine and is guaranteed to warm you up after just a few sips. It packs a hefty alcoholic punch guaranteed to spice up the company office party. With a brown sugar sweetness blended with hints of caramel and raisins, you’ll get in the spirit and won’t regret a couple days of rest and relaxation! ABV: 11.2 percent

Brrr by Widmer Brothers Brewing

While winter brews tend to taste like desserts in a bottle rather than complements to a meal, this Northwest-styled beer blends the best of both sweet and savory worlds. Hops lovers will rejoice with this year’s addition of Simcoe and Cascade hops that create a slightly more bitter finish that helps balance out sweet malt taste. Plus, this red ale has a smooth finish that aims to relax even the most high-strung runner worried they’ll fall out of step with a day of missed training. ABV: 7.2 percent

LTD 06 Black Bock by Full Sail Brewing Company

Substitute this full-bodied brew for the three servings of pie you might be considering during this year’s festivities. Packing a dessert-like punch with hints of coffee and chocolate chased by fig and caramel flavors, you won’t be sorry you gave this limited edition lager from Hood River, Ore., a chance. Each bottle packs an approximately 200 calorie punch, which won’t add up nearly as quickly as the desserts you’re looking at. ABV: 7.0 percent

Holiday Cheer by Spoetzl Brewery

Everything’s bigger in Texas. Especially the flavors packed into a single bottle of this holiday Dunkelweizen that comes from the tiny town of Shiner in the Lonestar state. Blending hints of pecans and caramel, it’s the Texas peach power that makes this holiday beer’s malty body stand out. As one of the oldest breweries in the country, the folks in Shiner pride themselves on having produced every drop of Spoetzl beer on site since production started in 1909. So don’t think about saying “no” to a refill. Think of it like you’re preserving history: 5.4 percent

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