Gift Guide: Seasonal Libations

Twist and Stout

Gone are the hefeweizens, saisons, farmhouse ales and crisp pilsners. Poof! See you next year. As temperatures drop and the light takes on that certain autumnal glow, you need a new kind of brew—something strong, dark and mysterious to entertain your palate.
It’s stout season. Made using roasted malts, these rich, complex brews channel some favored wintry flavors: chocolate, coffee, dark fruits and smoke.
Bring a sixer of local stout to your next holiday gathering or, better yet, hunker down in front of the fire with a good book or a reliable conversationalist.

#1 - Lancaster Milk Stout - Lancaster Brewing Company, 5.30% ABV; The most drinkable of the bunch, Lancaster Milk Stout is creamy, smooth and mild, with just the right amount of sweetness.

#2 - Storm King Stout - Victory Brewing Company, 9.1% ABV; This complex brew is the hoppiest of the lot—floral notes complement hints of chocolate and smoke.

#3 - Old Heathen Imperial Stout - Weyerbacher Brewing Company, 8% ABV; This beer is a paragon of boozy vigor, enlivened with the flavors of licorice and dark chocolate.

#4 - Insidious Imperial Stout Ale - Fegley’s Brew Works, 9% ABV; A taster favorite, this bottle-conditioned brew has a pleasant bitterness cut by notes of coffee and molasses.

#5 - Java Head Stout - Tröegs Brewing Co., 7.5% ABV; Notes of chocolate,
coffee and caramel elevate this smooth, slightly-sweet stout.

Bottoms Up

Philly isn’t only the domain of beer lovers—there are some enticing regional wines and spirits to choose from. Not only will these local libations add flavor and character to your holiday festivities, they also make excellent gifts.

#6 - Snap - Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction - Based on an old Mennonite gingersnap recipe—passed down through Art in the Age owner Steve Grasse’s mother—SNAP is a bottle full of spicy goodness. Though vanilla and cinnamon are strong on the nose, this local spirit drinks more like whiskey, with an intense ginger kick. Produced in small batches with organic ingredients, SNAP is delicious paired with apple cider, dropped into pumpkin beer (Pumpkin Bombs!) or stirred into hot coffee. Grasse also recommends a cocktail of SNAP, bourbon and ginger ale (with a squeeze of lime). Frankly, the brown elixir is satisfying enough all on its own—though you won’t catch us passing on a glass of SNAPnog this holiday season.
$32.99, Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction
(116 North 3rd St.), available at state stores and local bars; artintheage.com.

#7 - chaddsford Wines - Chaddsford Winery - Founded by Eric and Lee Miller in 1982, Chaddsford Winery is housed in a renovated colonial barn built in the 17th century. The winery sources all its grapes from the Miller Estate Vineyard in Chester County, as well as other southeastern Pennsylvania vineyards. A variety of dry whites, reds and seasonal sweet wines make up their collection. Try the Pinot Noir with hearty fall vegetables, such as butternut squash and Brussels sprouts, and the Holiday Spirit blend heated and spiced with cinnamon. The winery is open daily for tours and tastings.
$13.99-$29.99; available at Chaddsford Winery (632 Baltimore Pk., Chadds Ford), Peddler’s Village Wine Shop in Lahaska, state liquor stores and by the glass and bottle at City Hall’s Christmas Village, chaddsford.com