Starbucks isn’t the only beverage company putting seasonal spins on standard drinks: Brewers have been spicing up winter ales for ages, and the results are arguably better than kicked-up lattes. The best part: They’re not all one-note beers with generic spice profiles; some brewers shove particular spices into the spotlight. Sip beers that give your favorite holiday spice top billing; we’ve got options for drinkers who like their spice quiet or loud.
Toned down: Perched on pastrylike malt, the spice in Blue Moon Cinnamon Horchata Ale is fresh and floral yet restrained; rice in the brew lends authentic creaminess.
Turned up: Boozy and spiritlike, Terrapin Imperial Pumpkin Pie Porter marries massive cinnamon with alcohol spice; pumpkin shows up at the end to soften the swallow.
Toned down: Perky and bubbly Penn Ginger Beer has a healthy ginger pop and a barely-there pepper bite; an easygoing, 4.8%-ABV swallow keeps the sting in check.
Turned up: Hand-cut fresh ginger gives Crabtree Ginger Bee some serious zing; 60 pounds of Colorado honey in each batch tempers the bright spice with dry sweetness.
Toned down: Whole star anise just barely squeezes through the vanilla and biscuity malts in Lift Bridge Biscotti; Belgian yeast takes the sweetness to cookie-level.
Turned up: Elysian and 21st Amendment joined forces to brew He Said, a pumpkin-caraway porter punctuated by earthy, dry, licorice-like anise and a sneaky 8.2% ABV.
Toned down: Replace your a.m. chai latte with Rogness Yogi, a 5.2%-ABV chai-spiced session amber. Clove muscles through to tint each swallow with floral spice.
Turned up: Earthy, practically peppery clove shouts above cocoa roast and a tickle of alcohol in the otherwise mellow Southern Tier Warlock pumpkin stout.