01/14/2015 10:05 am ET Updated Mar 16, 2015

The 5 Best Winter Beers

Bitter cold weather, flu season and shoveling snow make winter tough to bear. Thankfully, beer always seems to make things a little bit better. Take a look at's list of the 5 Best Winter Beers to find full-bodied ales that deliver the rich malty flavors we crave during this time of the year. Perfect for pairing with hearty meals or sipping in front of the fireplace, our favorite winter warmers are sure to keep spirits high -- even as the temperature drops.

Mavericks Belgian Style Wit


Crafted in the sleepy beach town of Half Moon Bay, Mavericks Beer takes its name from the storied big-wave surfing spot located directly offshore from the brewery. This Belgian-style witbier is inspired by the pounding winter swell, offering oversized flavors of sweet and bitter orange, coriander and lemon. With a low ABV and just 122 calories, this unfiltered, easy-drinking session beer packs a surprising punch of seasonal cheer.

Read a complete review of Mavericks Belgian Style Wit

Brooklyn Brewery Winter Ale


Unlike many beers labeled winter ale, this brew contains no spices. It's based on the rich, malty ales of blustery Scotland, and it pours a reddish mahogany with a thick beige head. Plus, it wafts aromas of malt, caramel, toffee and roast. A hefty malt base provides flavors of plum and brown sugar along with a subtle nuttiness, while American Willamette hops temper the sweetness with a crisp finish.

Read a complete review of Brooklyn Brewery Winter Ale

Brouwerij Rodenbach Caractère Rouge


One of the highest rated beers in the world from the renowned Belgian Rodenbach brewery, Caractère Rouge is only imported to the United States in limited amounts -- so don't hesitate to grab it when the opportunity arises. This handcrafted Flanders Red Ale is aged in oak barrels for two years, followed by an additional six-month maceration in fresh cherries, raspberries and cranberries that gives the beer its beautiful garnet color and bright, bold flavors. Although it's a sour ale, it's not overpowering -- and offers enough sweetness to balance the tart taste of the fruit it's aged in.

Read a complete review of Brouwerij Rodenbach Caractère Rouge

Ommegang Abbey Ale


Located on a 136-acre former hop farm, Brewery Ommegang pays homage to the traditional farmstead style with its flagship Abbey Ale. The brew pours a dark red hue, with clove, sweet malt and caramel flavors helping to mask the beer's hefty 8.2 percent ABV. Like its Belgian cousins, Ommegang Abbey Ale boasts a generous selection of spices that are sure to warm the belly on a cold winter's night. A great candidate for cellaring, this ale will develop caramel, fig and currant notes with age.

Read a complete review of Ommegang Abbey Ale

Full Sail Wassail Winter Ale


One of America's first craft breweries, Full Sail has been ushering in the holiday season with this award-winning winter warmer since 1988. The recipe varies slightly from year to year, with this season's version featuring Pacific Northwest hops and four different malts. A full-bodied brown ale, this hearty brew delivers rich chocolatey notes alongside a balanced background of hops in the long-lasting finish. The 7.2 percent ABV may surprise you, as this winter delight goes down smoothly.

Read a complete review of Full Sail Wassail Winter Ale

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