If you typically fill your glass with beer instead of a glass of fine wine, New Year’s Eve might be a time when you’re asked to compromise your preferences for the sake of what’s available for the midnight toast. But with the increasing popularity and variety of craft beer, clinking glasses filled with beer is more acceptable than ever. If you’re more interested in tipping back a few quality beers over sipping bubbly, we put together a list of five beers that would be more than suitable for your New Year’s Eve toast. The beer list for Naperville Ale Fest still in the finalization process, but each of the beers we chose are from breweries and ciders attending the festival.
1: Pollyanna Brewing Eleanor Porter
This full-bodied porter leaves little to be desired in aroma and flavor. With a big, chocolatey nose that comes with a hint of dark roasted coffee, Eleanor pours a fluffy tan head that manages to last well past your first few sips. It’s near-black appearance provides exactly the flavor you would expect, a smooth and creamy chocolate front paired again with notes of coffee and caramel that finishes with just enough hop presence to balance sweetness. At 6.5% ABV, you won’t have to compromise flavor or effectiveness to keep the party going well after you toast the night.
- Half Acre Lead Feather American Black Ale
This black ale from Chicago’s own Half Acre Beer Co. is big on roasted malts and hops and leaves little to be desired from a seasonal brew. Lead Feather packs an aromatic punch with dry roasted malts and a hint of coffee and licorice. With a light and inviting mouthfeel, you get the malty character you expect from the nose but are also met with some nice contrasting hop bitterness that ends with a smooth, creamy finish. The balance of malt and hops offers depths that make this beer unique and at 6% ABV, it’s the perfect way to close out the old year and say “cheers” to the New Year.
- Bell’s Brewing Winter White Ale
This Belgian-inspired wheat beer from Michigan’s Bell’s Beer is truly a seasonal treat. A good alternative from dark, heavier winter warmers, Winter White Ale pours a hazy yellow gold with a fluffy white head. The nose is estery, fruity with notes of toasted bread and banana. Light-bodied and smooth, you’ll notice some citrus fruit along with clove that hangs well into the finish. Well-balanced and easy-drinking, a toast to this Bell’s brew is similar to New Years in that it only comes around once a year.
- Uncle John’s Atomic Apple Cinnamon Cider
Few things say celebration like a cider that pours a bubbly bright pink. A dry, tart cider, Uncle John’s Atomic Apple is made with Atomic fireball candies. While you might think Atomic Fireballs might overwhelm, Atomic Apple balances the acidity of a cider and the spice of cinnamon candy without going over the top. Sweet and festive with a nice dry apple aroma, Atomic Apple is a fun sip that fits both novelty and function at 6.5% ABV and makes a great conversation starter wherever you find yourself as you ring in the New Year.
- Anchor Brewing Christmas Ale
Anchor Brewing Christmas Ale, an iconic Christmas Ale from one of the country’s oldest breweries, is brewed just once a year with a different recipe and features a different, beautifully drawn tree annually. 2016 marks the 42nd annual release of this Anchor tradition which brings a complex, full-flavored yet subtle brew. Notes of bitter chocolate, toffee, holidays spices and a green hops round out the nuanced nose while it pours a dark cola-colored brown topped by a big, fluffy tan head. Exceptionally soft, this 6.5% ABV winter warmer tastes of dry, toasty malts, smoke and stone fruit for a rich, distinctive sip. With its vintage aesthetic and traditional appeal, it’s easy to see why this holiday themed ale should find its way to your glass in the New Year.