Although it's stout and porter season, some of the lighter varieties can illuminate the season, too — and we've got a few standouts that are classically styled, easy drinkers worth some attention for achieving greatness in their simplicity. We've put together a mix-pack of goodness and guarantee they all go down nicely beside a fire, whether you want to soak up malt-fueled choco bombs, or throw back a few crisp, clear beverages — there's something for everyone.
Hardywood Park Craft Brewery
5 percent alcohol content
The guys at Hardywood decided to kick it old-school with a classic lager — unfussy, solid, and easy-drinking — and nailed it. They've created a new fridge staple that celebrates all the glory of Richmond. Composed partly of Virginia-grown hops and barley, this unfiltered brew pours clear and golden with a surprising hop character that emerges at first sip immediately, followed by satisfying biscuit flavors and a malty backbone. There's even a smidge of citrus at the supercrisp finish. This one can — and should be — enjoyed cold, straight out of its very cool little stubby bottle.
Up All Night
Isley Brewing Co.
6.6 percent alcohol content
Packing a desserty punch, Isley puts a decadent spin on its classic Bribe Oatmeal Porter with a coffee kickin' variant, Up All Night. Clocking in at just over 6 percent, you can savor all the velvety mouth feel yumminess it has to offer without getting socked by a booze bomb. It matters because you'll want to enjoy a couple of these bad boys. Roasted coffee notes are prominent on the nose, while chocolate, cherry and pecan flavors do some palate dazzling. Pairs well with all the holiday sweets that'll fill your belly in the coming months. Bonus points to Isley folks for keeping it local with Lamplighter Coffee Roasters' Tall Bike Blend coffee beans.
Gingerbread Oak Barrel Aged Gourd of Thunder Imperial Pumpkin Porter
9.2 percent alcohol content
Strangeways goes to total beast mode with its gingerbread-infused Imperial Pumpkin Porter aged in oak barrels. According to those weirdos at the brewery, "It›s the perfect collision of fall meets Christmas." Chock-full of locally grown gourds, this pours black as death metal cranked to 11, but lands easy on the palate with a silky smooth mouth feel. It unleashes a burst of woody bourbon, vanilla and all the spices of a freshly baked batch of gingerbread cookies. You can snag it in bottles to impress your friends and family during seasonal gatherings or indulge by your lonesome with a draft pour at one of two Strangeways tasting rooms — while it lasts of course. Simply put, this brew slays.
Legend Brewing Co.
5.8 percent alcohol content
A new, seasonal treat from an old Richmond favorite. Legend Brewing gave its classic Winter White a break and ushered in colder temps with an excellent extra special bitter. The Ember Ale pours copper and clear with some light lacing, unleashing a bounty of sweet, fruity aromas and a bevy of bready, almost crustlike, flavors. Balanced as heck, a swirl on the palate reveals caramel and toasted malts, with little to no bitterness. The finish is pleasantly dry and biscuity. It's quite a surprise to taste this much flavor in such a light-bodied brew, but we aren't complaining.
Väsen Brewing Co.
7 percent alcohol content
This beauty is part of Väsen's Walrus delish stout series, so you know you're in for a treat before your first glass finishes pouring and that creamy-tan head settles. Smooth and ever-so-berry-forward, this black-as-night stout boasts roasty malt vibes with hints of cocoa nibs and possibly some clove. Let it be known, it's all about those tangy raspberries emerging from chocolatey goodness that offer up a bit more complexity and possible debate from fans of this style. Curiously, some folks still taste more chocolate than fruit. However, everyone agrees this less than ordinary variant is as big as its name might suggest.