Brrrr. It's starting to get a little nippy out there, and the forecast calls for even colder temperatures this weekend. But the weatherman may not have mentioned that dropping digits means big beers in Colorado, where the breweries start cranking out their deep dark belly-warming concoctions for the dark days of winter. While there are dozens of brews to choose from, here are six new beers that have only recently been released.
Hammer & Sickle Russian Imperial Stout Renegade Brewing Renegade Brewing announced back in August that it planned to start canning Hammer & Sickle Russian Imperial Stout, so it worked out pretty nicely that the beer, a hefty 9 percent ABV taproom favorite, won a bronze medal in October at the Great American Beer Festival. The beer, which just hit shelves this week, is the first seasonal can release for Renegade, which sells three other canned beers. Hammer & Sickle, it says, "has a warming quality with flavors of coffee, vanilla, and a dark chocolate finish." Woodcut No. 7 Odell Brewing Odell Brewing unveiled the latest in its Woodcut series this month, a Russian Imperial Stout aged -- like the rest of the Woodcut beers -- in brand new oak barrels. Weighing in at 12.5 percent ABV and boasting "notes of chocolate, vanilla, graham cracker, and brown sugar in the nose, the beer was bottled in 750 ml Belgian-style bottles, rather than the Champagne bottles Odell had been using. The Fort Collins brewery has also lowered the price by a few bucks, as compared to its previous Woodcut beers. Fade to Black, Volume 5 Left Hand Brewing Left Hand made a few people sad when it discontinued its winter seasonal, Snow Bound, and replaced it with Fade to Black four years ago, but the beer, which changes every year, has impressed (Volume 1, a foreign export stout, has won two gold medals at GABF). This year's version is a Black Rye Ale that has aromas of dark coffee and Maplewood" as well as molasses, nut bread, and spicy rye notes. Volume 5 is now out in six-packs, but you can also find the previous four beers -- the export stout, a smoked Baltic porter, a pepper porter and a black ale -- in a new Fade to Black variety twelve-pack. Wake Up Dead Nitro Left Hand Brewing Left Hand altered the beer-drinking landscape two years ago when it came up with a way to inject nitrogen into its bottled Milk Stout so that it pours smooth and creamy, like a draft beer. In October, Left Hand revealed that it would bottle two more Nitro beers, Sawtooth Ale and Wake Up Dead, a Russian Imperial Stout that is aged for four months and carries a whopping 10.2 percent ABV. And that ABV will sneak up on you considering that the beer is so smooth that it goes down easier than water. With "hints of raisins, black licorice, coffee and dark chocolate...any apprehensions about the rest of your day are quickly forgotten," the brewery says. Big Bad Baptist, 14, 17 and 18 Epic Brewing Yes, Utah's Epic Brewing has been bottling its enormous Big Bad Baptist, an imperial stout made with cocoa nibs and locally roasted coffee (and then aged in whiskey barrels), for more than two years, but when the Salt Lake City brewery opened its brand new production facility in Denver, it began making versions of the beer with Colorado coffee. Two of them, bottlings 14 and 17, were brewed using Fort Collins-based Cranknstein's Black Satin coffee, while the most recent, bottling 18, incorporated beans from Denver's Novo. All of them are around 12 percent ABV, and all three will knock your socks off. Shake Chocolate Porter Boulder Beer Company Boulder Beer Company, the state's oldest craft brewer, released its newest year-round bottled beer in October: Shake Chocolate Porter, which carries "rich, dark chocolate aromatics and flavors and subtle coffee-like notes." Made with five different grains and cacao nibs, the beer will be available in both 12- and 22-ounce bottles. Sweet and very chocolate-y, the beer has an almost malted-milk like texture, but it's very low in alcohol compared to the other bruisers on this list, coming in at round 5.9 percent ABV.
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