The craft brewing world has seen a huge increase in the number of canned beers. In 2002, Oskar Blues became the first craft brewery to independently can its own beers; 12 years later, CraftCans.com lists 1,557 beers in its database.
Still, there’s plenty of room for growth. “Around 7 percent of craft brewers today are using cans, representing about 3 percent of all sales from craft brewers,” says Julia Herz, craft beer program director for the Brewers Association.
Canned winter seasonal beers still tend to be especially rare. The unbreakable aluminum packaging is usually associated with summer activities, like heading to the pool, beach or a boat. But why should summer have all the canned fun? Cans are great for a ski trip. They make for easier clean up in a cabin or at a holiday party. Hell, they’re even fine to drink on your couch while you watch Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer for the 15th time.
To prove our point, here are six awesome seasonal winter brews available in cans.
1. Oskar Blues Ten FIDY
The original canning king, Oskar Blues, makes it’s Ten FIDY available only half the year. But at 10.5 percent alcohol, it’s probably best that the brewery restricts our access. A massive Russian imperial stout that drinks like coffee–laden chocolate milk, this’ll keep your blood pumping regardless of how many feet of snow you’re in.
2. 21st Amendment Fireside Chat Winter Spiced Ale
Much like Oskar Blues, California’s 21st Amendment retails strictly through aluminum. Their Hell or High Watermelon summer seasonal has been a breakout hit for the brewery the past couple years, but it offers a formidable winter release, as well: Fireside Chat. This warming strong ale is brewed slightly differently each year. For 2014, it layers spices and a light touch of cocoa nibs atop a malt base brimming with graham cracker flavors, all while packing a 7.9 percent ABV punch.
3. Bell’s Winter White Ale
Not all winter beers have to wallop you over the head with alcohol and spices. In fact, Bell’s Winter White Ale doesn’t use any spices at all. Instead, the brewery coaxed the brew’s clove and coriander aromas through a proprietary yeast blend. White beers always make for good winter counterpoints to stouts, and this one is light like a fresh snowfall.
4. Hopworks Abominable Winter Ale
India Pale Ales have quickly become the most popular brews produced in America (at least by number of brands). We’ve seen an influx of session IPAs to get us through the hot summers, so it only makes sense to have winter IPAs to help us during the cold months. Hopworks packs its Abominable Winter Ale with Cascade, Centennial, Chinook and Simcoe hops. But the name is almost a tease. IPA is nowhere on the label, but you should prepare your taste buds for the hoppiest winter ale you’ve ever encountered. Not that it’s a bad thing.
5. Upslope Christmas Ale
Christmas Ale in cans? You bet. Using Abbey Ale yeast and plenty of holiday spices, this sweet, fruity ale from Colorado’s Upslope Brewing Company basically begs to be stuffed in a stocking. Who wouldn’t be happy to find a giant red tallboy that looks like it’s wrapped in red ribbon by the fireplace on Christmas morning? Just not too close to the fire; don’t want to get it warm.
6. Anderson Valley Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale
If you like your winter warmers a bit more restrained in alcohol but still big in taste, Anderson Valley’s Winter Solstice will be right up your alley. It’s got a creamy vibe filled with vanilla and caramel flavors, peppered with hints of spice and hops. And at 6.9 percent ABV, it’s still no schlub. This brewery also cans its winter-friendly Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout, so Anderson Valley knows something about squeezing big beers into little cans.