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8 Willamette Valley Winter Beers (& Ciders) to Drink During Craft Beer Month

By Geoff Nudelman

It's no secret that Oregon is one of the country's best states for beer drinkers, but much of that fanfare is reserved for spring and summertime when the weather is warmer. 

However, wintertime is when many breweries and cideries flex their hoppy muscles and work up some really interesting spins on more traditional mid-year drinks. 

Across the Willamette Valley's breweries and cideries, there's no shortage of artisans and enthusiasts producing some of the state's best drinking. To help you decide which ones to check on your next visit, we caught up with six breweries and two cideries to hear about what they have on tap, waiting for your discovery. 

ColdFire Brewing (Eugene) - Citra Solstice CDA

The brothers at ColdFire took a couple of years to finish this particular recipe, which is named after their favorite hop: Citra. The 7.5% Cascadian Dark Ale pours like a brown ale, but drinks like a session IPA thanks to an infusion of wheat in the mash. It was just released in early January and is available on draft or in cans. 

Viking Braggot (Eugene) - Winter Squash Porter

This brewery is named after the traditional Viking drink “braggot,” which is technically a form of mead, and Viking Braggot takes inspiration from this and pours it into their beers. A great example is their seasonal Winter Squash Porter, available now through February. This 8% imperial porter is brewed with 260 lbs. of roasted local winter squash, turnip honey and condition don vanilla beans and cocoa nibs. The result is a light porter with subtle flavors and a nuanced finish. It'll certainly warm the soul on a cold day. 

Wolves & People Farmhouse & Brewery (Newberg) - Kismetic 

As the name states, Wolves & People produces a range of farmhouse-style ales, meaning they tend to lean on the more fragrant and experimental side as compared to traditional breweries. They've earned a cult following from this methodology and it includes beers like Kismetic. The 7.6% American Stout is brewed with rye, oats and barley and drinks like a traditional stout. 

Heater Allen (McMinnville) - Sticke Alt-Bier

This McMinnville staple focuses mainly on lagers, but occasionally tests the waters with seasonal releases like Sticke. The 5.6% German-style alt-bier welcomes fall with puncher hop notes and a clean finish. According to the brewery, this beer actually started as a mistake batch, but we're glad they kept it around. 

Evasion Brewing (McMinnville) - Air Hostess from the ‘60s 

Gluten-free beer gets a bad rap for generally being flavorless or not carrying the same oomph of regular suds. At Evasion, that's definitely not the case. The 100% gluten-free brewery uses rice, millet and oats to produce some outstanding GF options, including Air Hostess. This particular hazy pale ale is very hop-forward with a pleasant bitterness (perhaps a nod to air hostesses of the ‘60s?) to keep up with the cold temps. At 5%, it's a great hiking beer and won't weigh you down during your travels. 

Wildcraft Cider Works (Eugene) - Whiskey Barrel Aronia 

While this particular cider is billed as a spring/summer seasonal, it actually makes perfect sense to drink in the winter too. At first drink, the fermented flavor can be a bit overwhelming, but the aronia berry helps to round out the finish. The color is a gorgeous ruby that shines in the glass and gets a hint of darkness from aging in Stein Distillery rye whiskey barrels. At 7.4%, it's a certainly a sipping cider worth savoring. 

Gilgamesh Brewing (Salem) - Hobo Cake

Of course, you can't have a tasting without dessert and we saved the strongest (and sweetest) beer for last. Gilgamesh's German Chocolate Imperial Stout is a whopper of a beer at 13.6% with no semblance of bitterness or bite and pours like chocolate syrup. Not surprisingly, Gilgamesh serves Hobo Cake in a snifter with whipped cream and a cherry on top - this is a beer you'll want to end the day with.

Your adventure begins with the official Willamette Valley Travel Guide. Request your complimentary printed guide or download a digital guide today.

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