The Best Memphis Winter Beers To Enjoy, Maybe Even on a Patio
Ed. Note: Local Memphis breweries currently have a roster of stouts, porters, and lagers to satisfy during cold days—or at least during “pretend” cold days when you can wear a jacket and enjoy the patio. Contributor Blake has done the hard work of sampling the local offerings, so here are his personal recommendations for Memphis beer this season.
Today I’m on the patio at Ghost River in shorts. Later this week I’m sure I’ll be running for an umbrella and my warm coat. So while the weather goes full “Memphis” on us, our city’s breweries have been busy at work producing some glorious beers to keep us happy in any condition. We did some drinking so you’d know all about them.
(In no particular order)
Wiseacre’s Barrel Aged Snowbeard Barleywine (12.4% ABV)
Coming in on the cold winds to warm you up with its powerful flavors, this year’s Snowbeard is impressive. Wiseacre aged the barleywine (strong ale) for a year in bourbon barrels, and the result is a fantastic beer with a complex profile. They say it has caramel and jam, but all I can say is that the malts and hops perfectly balance out the fantastic sugars and sweetness.
If that 12.4% beer wasn’t enough to guarantee your need for an Uber or Lyft, they’ve also created the Calculator Dopplebock Lager (10% ABV) which is sweet with a deep mouthfeel of toffee flavors that had me wanting to order many more.
High Cotton’s Double Chocolate Stout (7% ABV)
Take in the aroma of High Cotton’s Double Chocolate Stout, and you’ll imagine a thick slice of decadent chocolate cake; taste a sip of the beer, and you’ll get all the chocolate flavor without the sweetness. High Cotton added plenty of Cacao nibs during secondary fermentation for that smooth, chocolate flavor, and I’m sure glad they did—this is one very enjoyable beer.
If you’re looking for more relaxed but still enjoyable beer you could drink all day, try their English Mild (3.2% ABV) which has a nice pub-beer quality to it, while being low in alcohol so it can be enjoyed for a long afternoon in the taproom.
Boscos’ Ed’s Porter (6.6% ABV)
I get excited anytime Boscos has a porter available, so I was ecstatic to see the Ed’s Porter back on tap. Dark roasted malts with hops create a deep full-bodied porter, with less sweetness than I expect from porters. The flavors of this one keep my palate entertained until the last drop. On the special tap at Boscos is their Belgian Quad (10.1% ABV) full of complex flavors of sugars and malts. As mentioned to me, “this beer is strong, amber and dangerous.” I agree: dangerously delicious.
Memphis Made’s The Judge Porter (6% ABV)
My last trip to Memphis Made was great, as I constantly want dark beers and they deliver a multitude. The Judge is a chocolate-vanilla porter with roasted cocoa nibs that bring the tastiness porter fans crave. Less sweet but equally delicious is the Drew’s Day Off Stout (6.1% ABV), an oatmeal stout with hearty mouthfeel and flavors, and their Orange Drewlious (6.1 ABV) which is the Drew’s Day Off with some added orange peel. You just can’t go wrong with these local beers.
Crosstown’s Spacebird Donut Stout (5.2% ABV)
The first stout out of Crosstown was a big hit for those looking for a smooth, sweet stout experience. It’s a pastry stout, which is a style that can encompass all sorts of extremely sweet concoctions, most with higher alcohol content. This makes Spacebird’s lower ABV more enjoyable for casual taproom and patio fun. If you don’t want to go the stout route, check out their NYX Czech Dark Lager (5% ABV) which has the dark roasty flavors of the malts with a clean mouthfeel and drinking experience.
Meddlesome’s Under Pressure Vanilla Porter (4.4% ABV)
With strong vanilla flavors and a bitter malty bite, Under Pressure delivers on the type of beer you need while sitting by the fireplace after a cold day. For a sweet porter, it doesn’t have the smoothest mouthfeel I’d expect, but the flavors are hard to beat.
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Also available currently is their Dirty ‘Dova Imperial IPA (8.2%), which for an IPA, doesn’t have as harsh of a hoppy bite as you’d think. This beer is a perfect Winter beer for IPA fans.
Rock’n Dough’s Mr. Sweet Potato Head (10.1% ABV)
I first had this beer two years ago at Cooper Young Beer Fest and was happy when I saw it again on the beer list at Rock’n Dough when I went in on a busy Friday night. If you’re a pumpkin beer fan (and I am) you’ll love the spice and sweet potato flavors. At 10.1%, it packs quite a punch, but it sure is a tasty punch.
The Strong Silent Type Belgian Blonde (9% ABV) isn’t a typical beer style to think about in the winter, but it’s so delicious I couldn’t leave it off the list, and at 9% it can keep you warm in the cold. For a blonde ale, it had wonderful flavors from the Belgian yeast which made it hard to order only one.
Ghost River’s Rocket-88 Oatmeal Stout (6.5% ABV)
This new addition to the canned seasonal offerings from GRB is slightly sweet with a smooth mouthfeel, a beer that works perfectly by the fire pit or on the patio. Fun fact: the can art was created by Memphis artist Birdcap. If you’re looking for a bitter non-sweet offering, try their Dry Irish Stout (5.25% ABV) which delivers a dark-roasted, hearty stout experience.
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About the Author
Blake Marcum was born and raised in the 901 and now lives in Midtown, helping people vicariously live out their dreams on social media, if those dreams involve beer and barbecue. He’s a contributor to I Love Memphis,Memphis Travel, and MemphisCraftBeer.com. A Grand Champion of BBQ Fest (2013) and BBQ judge, he really knows BBQ. Pairing that with his love of craft beer, he’s a great representative of the fun side of the Bluff City. Blake loves the investment going into Memphis and believes the best is yet to come. Follow him on Twitter at@blakeandbrew.