Sputnik, Austin Beerworks
ABV: 8.5 percent
Back in 2011, the brewers at Austin Beerworks decided to play against type with a new seasonal release. “Our four year-round beers were light and clean,” says cofounder Michael Graham, “so we wanted to do a big, bold winter beer.” Sputnik, a Russian imperial coffee oatmeal stout, is now eagerly awaited each winter in Central Texas, with cans and kegs disappearing quickly upon release. Says Graham: “This is our most popular seasonal, but it’s almost impossible to scale up—it’s a labor of love for us.”
Viet-Irish Coffee, 8th Wonder Brewery
ABV: 10 percent
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This limited-edition imperial version of 8th Wonder Brewery’s year-round Rocket Fuel Vietnamese Coffee Porter is slightly bitter and not as pointedly coffee-forward as other coffee porters, with gently sweet accents of toffee and molasses. The beer is aged in Jameson barrels as part of the brewery’s “Caskmates” series. (Note: 8th Wonder has also released a limited winter beer brewed in collaboration with musician Robert Ellis. White Tuxedo—named after Ellis’s stage attire—is an imperial dunkelweizen brewed with Texas honey, aged in Jameson barrels, and finished with champagne yeast.)
Cocoa Bueno, Community Beer Co.
ABV: 6.5 percent
Inspired by Mexican hot chocolate, Community Beer Co.’s Mexican chocolate stout balances chile heat and deep chocolate flavor with vanilla and cinnamon. Cocoa Bueno is “medium-bodied and malty, where the flavors each shine without stealing the show,” says brewmaster Jamie Fulton. Perfecting the spice component was a challenge: the final blend includes ancho, Aleppo, and chipotle peppers. Pureed whole vanilla beans and cinnamon bark provide the sweetness and spice. Community is also releasing the heavy-hitting Mocha Barrel Legion imperial stout, aged six months in bourbon barrels, in a very limited run this month.
This article originally appeared in the February 2020 issue of Texas Monthly with the headline “Winter Sippers.” Subscribe today.