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2017 Beer Guide: Dark and Robust

Some things just go together, like dive bars and ski bums, spring days and one-piece ski suits. We’ve applied that philosophy to this year’s Beer Guide, pairing 18 craft beers from around the country with how best to enjoy them—whether that’s hydrating throughout the day or being the guy who takes an Uber home from the tailgate. We’ve considered flavor, ABV, packability and skintrack cred to present the hoppiest, headiest and most satisfying beers—and how to fully drink them up.

For our fourth installment of the 2017 Beer Guide, we sipped some rich brews to warm the body and soothe the spirit on frosty winter nights.

Editors’ Choice: Left Hand Brewing

Nitro Milk Stout
lefthandbrewing.com
Longmont, Colo. | ABV: 6%

While beers are commonly carbonated with CO2, Left Hand has perfected the art of bottling with nitrogen, known to create a smoother and creamier mouthfeel among stouts. And that’s why testers praised this milk stout, calling it “super smooth” and “rich and creamy.” “Milk stouts aren’t common,” one said, “but Left Hand’s stands out.”

Pairs With: Left- and right-hand turns.

High Hops Brewery

Cherry Vanilla Milk Stout
highhopsbrewery.com
Windsor, Colo. | ABV: 6.5%

This Front-Range brewery grew out of a flourishing, family-owned hops farm, and their Cherry Vanilla knockout grew on testers after the first sip. “Prominent vanilla and chocolate flavors dominate,” one tester said. “I had to go searching for the cherry flavor.” Added another, “This is a beer I’d keep in the ’fridge for a special treat.”

Pairs With: Dessert at the yurt.

14th Star Brewing Co.

Maple Breakfast Stout
14thstarbrewing.com
St, Albans, Vt. | ABV: 5.5%

Brewed with coffee and pure Vermont honey and maple syrup, this rich, roasty and subtly carbonated stout does breakfast better than a greasy-spoon diner. “It’s like iced coffee, but with alcohol instead of caffeine, and cold instead of hot,” one day drinker said. “I’ve bought this many times, and I’ll buy it many more.”

Pairs With: Post-dawn-patrol pancakes and bacon.

Maine Beer Company

King Titus Porter
mainebeercompany.com
Freeport, Maine | ABV: 7.5%

“For a long time, I’ve felt good porters are common and great porters are rare,” said one certified beer judge. “This one doesn’t try to be special but certainly is.” Other testers appreciated the caramel aroma and slight bourbon taste while one concluded, “For those who like the dark side, this one doesn’t disappoint.”

Pairs With: Night laps by headlamp

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