Big things come in small packages, and that goes double for craft brewers, who package many of their potent products in twelve- sixteen- or twenty-ounce cans and bottles.
But those big things can also come with a big price. While a six-pack of craft beer usually runs from $8.99 to $10.99, there are four-packs of specialty beer priced at $14.99 and bombers or 750 ml bottles that extend upward of $20, $25, even $30. Most of these beers are rare releases, full of expensive ingredients and flashy packaging, and to craft beer aficionados, they're just as worth it as a nice bottle of wine is to a oenophile.
Still, there are also a lot of huge, beautifully-made, boundary-pushing beers that can be had for much less -- which is helpful during this spendy season. The following six beers -- all seasonally released and all made in Colorado -- will light you up without lightening your wallet too much (prices will vary from store to store).
See also: - Four big barrel-aged Colorado beers to look for in December - Strange Brewing will bottle its GABF medal-winning Dr. Strangelove Barleywine - Great Divide adds two new seasonals, HeyDay and Orabelle, removes two others
Imperial Coffee Chocolate Stout New Belgium Brewing $5.99 A departure from New Belgium's traditional brewing style, this bad boy balances two rich flavors, coffee and chocolate, in a smooth combination of bitter and sweet. Dark and somewhat roasty, this imperial stout checks in at 10 percent ABV.
Wake Up Dead Left Hand Brewing $6.49 It takes a hearty soul to finish a bottle of this black-colored Russian Imperial Stout, which is cellared for four months at Left Hand before being released, especially since Wake Up Dead notches 10.4 percent ABV. "Hints of raisins, black licorice, coffee and dark chocolate are followed by earthy, herbal hop notes," the brewery says.
Wee Heavy Dry Dock Brewing $7.99 This Scottish-style Wee Heavy will knock your kilt off with an ABV of 9.5 percent, although its smooth, toffee and caramel flavors may trick you in drinking more than one. Made with Scotch malts, it pours a deep amber and boasts just a hint of peaty smoke.
Killer Penguin Boulder Beer $8.49 There's a reason why barleywines are typically released in the winter: their sweet nature and high alcohol content can help bring warmth to even the coldest night. Killer Penguin, at 10 percent ABV, fits the bill, as the recipe includes twice the malt as some other winter beers, along with a healthy dose of hops. No real penguins were used.
The Czar Avery Brewing $8.99 This is one of the finest examples of a Russian Imperial Stout being made in Colorado, so it's not surprise that it comes from Avery Brewing in Boulder. Crafted with magnum and sterling hops, along with oats and six kinds of malt, this black gold weighs in at 11 percent ABV and carries notes for English toffee, rich mocha, sweet molasses, candied currants and a hint of anise. Cellar it for a year or two for deepening flavors.
Oak Aged Yeti Great Divide Brewing $9.49 Part of Great Divide's famed Yeti clan, the 9.5 percent ABV Oak Aged version imparts oaky and vanilla flavors into the brewery's powerful imperial stout. It's a lot to pack into a bottle that already includes massive amounts of roasted malt and hop character.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
Westword's Beer Man on Twitter at @ColoBeerMan and on Facebook at Colo BeerMan