Warm up this winter with seasonal brews from suburban breweries

  • Eric Bramwell, head brewer and co-founder of Riverlands Brewing Company, shows off the brewery's rerelease of First Catch of the Day, an Imperial Stout made with maple, coffee and vanilla.

    Eric Bramwell, head brewer and co-founder of Riverlands Brewing Company, shows off the brewery's rerelease of First Catch of the Day, an Imperial Stout made with maple, coffee and vanilla. Courtesy of Jeremy Teel

  • During the winter, Church Street Brewing Company is offering a variety of heavier beers at its Itasca taproom.

    During the winter, Church Street Brewing Company is offering a variety of heavier beers at its Itasca taproom. Courtesy of Church Street Brewing Company

 
By Samantha Nelson
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 12/10/2021 11:53 AM

You might turn to eggnog or mulled wine to warm up and enjoy some cheer during the holiday season, but seasonal beers are becoming an increasingly popular winter tradition. When the weather turns frigid, local breweries are swapping out light beers made for easy drinking with richer varieties with high alcohol content and savory spices.

Riverlands Brewing in St. Charles is warming up customers with Fortifier Dopplebock, a 7.7% ABV bready beer with a natural coffee flavor.

 

"It's going to warm you up for sure," said Riverlands taproom manager Jeremy Teel. "It's got some nice toasty notes. Doppelbocks are brewed with the intention of getting you through the colder months."

The brewery is also pouring Moonlight Reflection Imperial Stout, a 13.5% ABV beer made with coconut, vanilla and rye.

"Our head brewer was going for something that would be very dessert friendly," Teel said. "It's got the vanilla, too, that sweetens it up, but that rye helps temper it with a little spice so it's not overwhelming. I think in wintertime you're thinking of candies and your family gatherings."

Riverlands Brewing Company's head brewer and co-founder Eric Bramwell has been brewing some new, heavier beers for the winter.
Riverlands Brewing Company's head brewer and co-founder Eric Bramwell has been brewing some new, heavier beers for the winter. - Courtesy of Jeremy Teel

Riverlands already sold out of its Juleol winter ale, spiced with cinnamon, ginger and orange peel, after it was featured in beer Advent calendars put together by local spots, including Beer on the Wall in Arlington Heights and Plank Road Tap Room. But this week they're rereleasing First Catch of the Day, an Imperial Stout made with maple, coffee and vanilla that was on their original opening menu in 2019. You can try it at a pajama party at 1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 11, featuring food from Biker Dude Burgers.

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They'll be saving some of the beer to barrel age for about 18 months, making it even more potent. The brewery originally only had room for four aging barrels, but bought out the space next door last year and now has 50 barrels. Riverlands kicked off the holiday season with a Black Friday release party featuring barrel-aged versions of their Tranquil and Gravity Void imperial stouts that were 14.5% ABV. Both sold out within a day.

"The stouts always do really well for us, especially the barrel-aged stouts," Teel said. "Those are the things that are sought after the most."

Riverlands Brewing is located at 1860 Dean St., Unit A, St. Charles. For details, see riverlandsbrewing.com/.

Looking to try some seasonal beers yourself? Here are some other places where you can get a taste while they last.

Church Street Brewing Company is tapping heavier beers, including the Amburana Christmas Ale, during the colder months at its Itasca taproom.
Church Street Brewing Company is tapping heavier beers, including the Amburana Christmas Ale, during the colder months at its Itasca taproom. - Courtesy of Church Street Brewing Company
Church Street Brewing

1480 Industrial Drive, Itasca, (630) 438-5725, churchstreetbrew.com/

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

For the holidays, Church Street is brewing up The Night Before Krampus, a 7.5% ABV Scottish ale blended with cocoa and Andes mint chocolates. Or consider ordering the Amburana Christmas Ale, which is a Russian Imperial Stout (aka Russian Rhapsody, 12.5% ABV) brewed using amburana spirals to give it a barrel-aged natural flavor. Need to do some shopping? Church Street is hosting its Winter Market Friday through Sunday, Dec. 10-12, when local vendors will be selling a variety of items.

The Night Before Krampus, center, is just one of the seasonal beers on tap during the holidays at Church Street Brewing Company in Itasca.
The Night Before Krampus, center, is just one of the seasonal beers on tap during the holidays at Church Street Brewing Company in Itasca. - Courtesy of Church Street Brewing Company
Durty Nellie's

180 N. Smith St., Palatine, (847) 358-9150, nelliespalatine.com/

Pick up a punch card and drink your way through the 12 Beers of Christmas, trying seasonal brews from around the world, including Fistmas holiday red ale from Chicago's Revolution Brewing and 12 Drummers Drumming bourbon barrel-aged Belgian-style quadruple ale from California's The Bruery. If you order them all, you'll get a commemorative T-shirt and a pint glass.

Elmhurst Brewing Co.

171 N. Addison Ave., Elmhurst, (630) 834-2739, elmhurstbrewingcompany.com/

Try Santa's Liquid Helper, a winter lager that's been brewed in oak barrels for one year, or their brand new King of Fools, Fools Gold golden coffee stout aged in Heaven Hill barrels. This weekend, in addition to Saturday and Sunday brunch, the brewery is hosting a Crafts & Drafts craft market featuring multiple vendors from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 12.

Penrose Brewing

509 Stevens St., Geneva, (630) 232-2115, penrosebrewing.com/

Warm up with Glügg Stout, a 13.5% ABV bourbon-barrel-aged stout with mulled wine, or Snow Boots, a 7.5% ABV IPA meant to get you through the Midwest winter. You can also pick up a four-pack of Elf Boots, a 4.5% ABV session IPA that provides a lighter alternative to holiday drinks. Stop in the taproom to explore the full menu of heavier beers, plus play trivia from 7-9 p.m. Wednesdays.

Two Brothers Tap House

30W315 Calumet Ave., Warrenville, (630) 393-2337, twobrothersbrewing.com

The brewery launched its Cherry Northwind Imperial Stout on Thursday, which you can try on draft or bottled. Bring a toy to donate to Toys for Tots and consider picking up one of the brewery's holiday gift boxes, which includes Northwind Stout and Peppermint Bark Porter.

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