Beer, Wine & Spirits

Chocolate, coconut and vanilla top the notes in a clutch of winter beers

Justin Sullivan | Getty Images

As the temperature turns colder and the holidays draw closer, winter seasonal releases are making their way to bars, restaurants and retailers. CNBC took a look at six recently announced beer releases that can help ward off winter's chill.

The return of Merlin

With Halloween approaching, it's fitting that Firestone Walker Brewing Company is releasing some "Black Magic" this month with the annual return of Velvet Merlin oatmeal stout. This one boasts "robust cocoa and espresso aromas" and "rich dark chocolate and roasted coffee flavors" with an alcohol by volume (ABV) content of 5.5 percent, and 27 international bitterness units (IBUs)— a gauge of how bitter a beer is.

Coconut cult classic:

Death by Coconut Irish porter
Source: Oskar Blues Brewery

This month, Oskar Blues Brewery is back with its popular Death by Coconut Irish porter. Cholaca, a Boulder, Colorado based company, provides a chocolate that's liquefied, swirled in the porter and then dropped on "tons" of coconut.

"Take a porter with crème brulee, burnt sugar, and rich caramel profile and blend it with heaps of coconut and chocolate, and Death by Coconut is born," explained Tim Mathews, Oskar Blues' head of brewing operations. The result is a beer that pours a "rich velvet black" and has an ABV of 6.4 percent and 25 IBUs.

We're Off To See The Lizard

Founders Brewing has a first time release hitting the market this month. Lizard of Koz is a bourbon barrel aged imperial stout brewed with chocolate, vanilla and—proving "there is no place like home"—fresh Michigan blueberries.

The result is what Founders brewmaster Jeremy Kosmicki calls a "rich and tart" stout, which is being sold in 750ml bottles. The ABV, however, is TBD (to be determined), as Founders brewers are still pulling the beer out of the barrels.


Full Sail Brewing Company is already in the holiday spirit, releasing two holiday themed brews this month. The first is Wreck the Halls, its "Hoppy Holiday" ale.

It's a hybrid of an American-style IPA and a winter warmer, which is an "intriguing blend of Centennial and Cascade hops providing elegant citrus notes balanced by a backdrop of a rich caramel malt body, dry hopped to amplify the aromas and flavor" said Full Sail executive brewmaster Jamie Emmerson. It's being released in 6-packs for the first time this year and has an ABV of 6.5 percent and 68 IBUs.

South of the Border Inspired Sipper

Xocoveza mocha stout
Source: Stone Brewing Co.

Stone Brewing Co. first brewed Xocoveza, a "winter spiced mocha stout" in 2014. It was intended as a one-time offering but, thanks to fan demand, Stone has turned this into an annual release.

Brewed with cocoa, Mostra coffee, pasilla peppers, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and milk sugar, Stone Brewing Co. describes this brew as "an insanely delicious take on Mexican hot chocolate." It has an ABV of 8.1 percent and 50 IBUs.

'First Snow' of the season

Jubelale winter ale
Source: Deschutes Brewery

"There's a certain magic that comes with the very first snow" (Frosty The Snowman): Deschutes Brewery has been bottling its winter seasonal, Jubelale, for 29 years. According to Deschutes brewmaster Veronica Vega, it's known for its "warm spiciness, dried fruit and malty caramel character, and a hoppy finish."

This year's label features artwork entitled "First Snow" by Bend, Oregon artist Karen Ruane. It has an ABV of 6.7 percent with 60 IBUs.