Austin doesn’t get much of a winter, but the porters and stouts so suited to this time of year will nonetheless go down just right as the holidays approach. As such, local breweries have stocked up on seasonal beers that will provide us a very festive time indeed. Here are the brews to seek out throughout the remainder of this merry month.
The ABGB’s South Austin Speedball Coffee Stout
With coffee as an upper, beer a downer, they’re sure to cancel each other out and just leave you feeling good when combined, right? Find out at the South Austin brewpub, which specializes in lagers but certainly knows its way around ales, too. The Speedball, at 6.8 percent ABV, features rich roasted malt and cold brew from Flat Track Coffee Roasters brewed for the ABGB by Better Half Coffee & Cocktails.
Austin Beerworks Sputnik Russian Imperial Coffee Oatmeal Stout
One of Austin’s quintessential winter beers is back both in cans and on draft. With Sputnik, your taste buds will find cosmic bliss thanks to the combination of roasted malts, oats and Cuvee Coffee in the 8.5 percent ABV stout. The coffee is the key: Austin Beerworks has developed a proprietary method of introducing it into the brew, drawing out the aromatics without added harshness. Cans tend to fly off store shelves quickly, but Sputnik will linger on draft into the new year.
Hold Out Brewing Double Chocolate Caramelized Orange Cheesecake Stout
The downtown brewery from the founders of the Brew & Brew and Better Half isn’t open yet but has a little holiday surprise for you: a new beer made with chocolate malt, cocoa, vanilla, lactose, dried sweet orange peel and caramelized orange slices. The sweet, creamy stout will help remind you of what a disarming flavor combination chocolate and orange can be. It may still be on tap at the Brew & Brew after the coffee shop's Tun Tun Tun Fest on Wednesday.
Hops & Grain Lactose Porter
Roasted notes are a common, defining flavor in porters and stouts, but brewers can balance them out with lactose, a type of sugar derived from milk. In Hops & Grain’s new winter seasonal, the lactose — an ingredient that can’t be fermented — adds sweetness and body. Pick up six-packs of the velvety porter in the East Austin taproom or at other bars, restaurants and stores around Austin this month.
Independence Brewing End Credits German Chocolate Cake Stout
The annual collaboration with the Alamo Drafthouse has become a year-end tradition — although the beer style changes each time. This year’s recipe aims to transform a delectable dessert into liquid form, and the additions of cocoa, lactose and toasted coconut in the brew has done exactly that. The coconut in the medium-bodied End Credits stout accentuates the chocolate notes for a particularly cakelike winter beer. Find it on draft at all of the Alamo’s 20 Texas locations.
Uncle Billy’s Barrel-Aged Shokolad
For the first time in the Barton Springs brewery’s 12 years, Uncle Billy’s has produced barrel-aged beers that are on tap now. Each of the four options are remarkable, but the seasonal Shokolad is particularly perfect. The chocolate imperial stout matured for six weeks in Uncle Billy’s bourbon barrels to draw out notes of cocoa and plum and provide a warming boozy finish. Try it side by side with the unaged Skokolad to discern flavors from the barrels.
Zilker Elfie Sunshine Imperial Coffee Milk Stout
Austinites can get the urban brewery’s Coffee Milk Stout year-round in cans, but once a year after Christmas, a high-octane, cocoa-containing version of the dark beer releases for a limited time. Elfie Sunshine returns on Dec. 27, along with several barrel-aged variations. In January, last year’s Elfie was placed into Woodford Reserve Bourbon barrels for 11 months; in November, the resulting stouts were topped off with either coffee beans or Spokesman espresso.