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Pubs we love: Cold-weather brewpubs

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We can’t think of five better places to be snowed in than these warm brewpubs in otherwise frigid towns.

SKAGWAY BREWING CO.

700 Broadway, Skagway, Alaska, skagwaybrewing.com

DETAILS: The original Skagway Brewing Co. opened in 1897 to pour beer for the Gold Rush crowd; at one point, the company brewed 30,000 barrels per year. Today, the brewpub’s the neighborhood watering hole for the roughly 1,000 residents of the “gateway to the Klondike” on Alaska’s panhandle.

DRINK: Skagway’s crisp, floral Spruce Tip Ale’s a must-sip; after all, the brewery invented the style when it tossed hand-picked Sitka spruce tips in a creamy seasonal ale. Then, move toward the heavy stuff with the slick, roasty Oosik oatmeal stout and the sweet and strong (8.9%-ABV) Scottish Wee Heavy.

TIPS: Save room for Skagway’s menu of super-fresh Alaskan seafood; foodies can nosh on the smoked Pacific salmon plate loaded with crostini and red onion-caper relish while barflies savor the Brewmaster’s Fish ‘n’ Chips, your choice of beer-battered cod or halibut.

DRY DOCK BREWING

15120 E. Hampden Ave., Aurora, Colo., drydockbrewing.com

DETAILS: Progressive and traditional in all the right ways, Dry Dock’s a decorated brewery with a laid-back pub that just happens to adjoin a killer homebrew shop. No wonder it was named Small Brewpub of the Year at the 2009 GABF. The place is so soaked with beer, there’s no room for food—but you’re welcome to order in.

DRINK: The brewery returned to the GABF in 2010 to score four silver medals; see what victory tastes like with pints of estery Bismarck Altbier and banana-bubblegum U-boat Hefeweizen. IPA fiends: Keep an eye out for the hop-crazy 9%-ABV Seven Seas Double IPA on the beer engine and fill a growler to go.

TIPS: Go for the pub’s Firkin Fridays when the brewers unleash a one-day-only concoction on cask. Past pours have included a white chocolate-raspberry porter; a saison with orange, grapefruit, lemon and lime zests; and “Whiskey-SB”—Dry Dock’s HMS Victory ESB with whiskey.

WILLIMANTIC BREWING CO. (pictured)

967 Main St., Willimantic, Conn., willibrew.com

DETAILS: Housed in a statuesque 1909 U.S. Post Office building, this northeastern Connecticut brewpub is literally postcard-perfect. What was once the lobby is now an award-winning, wood-clad brewpub pouring a dozen styles each month at the 60-foot mahogany bar; the rest of the gargantuan space houses a café, presided over by a mural of Willimantic’s 1920s Main Street.

DRINK: A constantly rotating lineup of brews features some of-the-moment styles like a black IPA with saison yeast and a Cuvee des Fleurs-style farmhouse ale that are here today, gone tomorrow. However, favorites like the maize-brewed Carrier’s Credo Cream Ale and juicy Junk Mail IPA are mainstays.

TIPS: Grab a seat in the dining room—formerly the post office workroom—for a view of the brewery, and order from the huge American menu using each dish’s ZIP code. On Sundays, postal workers score 10 percent off their bill.

NORTHWOODS BREWPUB GRILL

3560 Oakwood Mall Dr., Eau Claire, Wis., northwoodsbrewpub.com

DETAILS: Only in Wisconsin would a lodge serve house-made lingonberry-apple pie and its own beer. Fourteen taps host Northwoods’ own craft and other mainstream drafts, a full restaurant serves lefse (Norwegian flatbread) all day long, and the pool tables are always free.

DRINK: Sip on the honey-infused Bumbl’n Bubba’s Buzz’n Brew and the GABF silver medalist Lil’ Bandit Brown Ale. Then, take home a sixer of Walter’s Beer; crafted since 1874 by what was once America’s largest brewer, Northwoods revived the brand after Walter Brewing Co. shuttered in 1989.

TIPS: End (or heck, start) your visit with the pub’s homemade Norske Nook pies, which range from classics like banana cream and rhubarb to extravagances like blueberry cream cheese and coconut pineapple dream. Meld all of the wonder of this place into one yummy pairing: a slice of peach praline with a pint of Whitetail Wheat.

BREWERS UNION LOCAL 180

48329 E. 1st St., Oakridge, Ore., brewersunion.com

DETAILS: About an hour southeast of Eugene in a town completely surrounded by national forest, Brewers Union is Oregon’s only pub dedicated to real ale, a.k.a. beer served directly from the cask it fermented in. The true-to-style British pub ethos means you’re just as likely to see strangers talking beer over a game of pool as you are old friends in the parlor hovered over Scrabble and plates of bangers and mash.

DRINK: A handful of guest taps pour the likes of Hopworks and Wandering Aengus, but the show-stealers are the six casks pouring house beers like Bob’s Yer Uncle, a Belgian-style bitter, and Black Wooly Jumper, a dry Irish stout. Sneak a peek at the cellar behind the bar and geek out over the Tilt-a-Cask system, which automatically corrects the incline of the casks based on their volume for perfect pours every time.

TIPS: Loyalists can join the Brewers Union for $100 per year, which entitles members to 20 percent off house beer, 10 percent off other beverages, pint glasses and one two-for-one meal deal each month.

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