Winter is here which means Orange County beer fans can look forward to several highly anticipated craft releases. Local breweries have been holding back some of their biggest and boldest ales for the end of 2017 and the start of 2018,  setting the stage for what is sure to be another incredible year for the OC beer scene. 

(credit: Kevin Lara/The Bruery)

10 Lords-A-Leaping
The Bruery
717 Dunn Way
Plancentia, CA 92870
(714) 996-6258

The Bruery’s famed 12 Beers of Christmas series is sadly nearing the final stretch, but the good news is, they’re going out with a bang. This year’s offering features a dark imperial wit ale base with 10, count ‘em 10, spices including coriander, anise, dried apples and cloves. The end result is dark fruit sweetness, spice, and everything nice, with an aroma that’ll put any holiday candle to shame.

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(credit: Basil Nabhan)

Gunwhale Ales
2960 Randolph Ave.
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
(949) 239-9074

Winter is an ideal to time to check out Costa Mesa favorite Gunwhale. While the brewery (celebrating its third anniversary) always has quality beer on tap, Gunwhale’s unique seasonal ale Wolfbait is perhaps their greatest offering. The beer begins with a dark farmhouse base that is fermented in an oak foeder and Saccharomyces Brux Trois yeast. The final product is a delightful dance of sour cherries and gingerbread spice that makes you yearn for a roaring fire and bearskin rug. 

(credit: Noble Ale Works)

Whoomp! There It Is
Noble Ale Works
1621 S. Sinclair St.
Anaheim, CA 92806
(714) 634-2739

The makers of Naughty Sauce will surely find themselves on the nice list this year as they unleash what will undoubtedly be yet another epic tier coffee stout. This time around Noble shifts from a blonde stout to a 13.4% ABV brunette beauty with tag team partners and cold brew wizards 2nd Shift providing bourbon barrel aged Colombian coffee beans. Whoomp! There It Is will be released on December 7, just in time for the holiday season. Can y’all dig it?

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(credit: Mr. Blue./Yelp)

Barrel Aged Dusk ‘Til Dawn with Vanilla and Maple Syrup
Pizza Port
301 N. El Camino Real
San Clemente, CA 92672

Fans of Pizza Port’s ever-popular Dusk ‘Til Dawn are bound to have a very happy holiday this year. The Great American Beer Fest silver medal award-winning imperial coffee porter has been taken to the next level after being aged in bourbon barrels and spiked with vanilla and maple syrup. Only a small batch of this bad boy was brewed so keep an eye out on the Pizza Port San Clemente tap list because it likely won’t stick around much longer than a Fingerling Monkey on a Walmart shelf. 

(credit: Barley Forge Brewing Co)

Fussy Puckett
Barley Forge Brewing Co.
2957 Randolph Ave.
Costa Mesa, CA 92626

Is Fussy Puckett a Charles Dickens cast off? Perhaps a long lost relative of a beloved Twins hall of famer? We may never know. What is certain, however, is that Mr. Puckett happens to be the namesake of a mighty fine winter warmer courtesy of Costa Mesa’s Barley Forge. This seasonal brown ale is highlighted by chocolate malt, chinook hops, and a bonus trio of vanilla beans, orange peel, and cocoa nibs. The final product approaches a liquid version of a Terry’s Chocolate Orange, and it’s every bit the stocking stuffer. 

(credit: Juli Hansen/shutterstock)

Barrel Aged HoliDAVE
Artifex Brewing Company
919 Calle Amanecer
San Clemente, CA 92673
(949) 429-7805

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Happy HoliDaves are upon us, and they just might be more joyful than ever. Turns out a portion of the World Beer Cup award winning 2016 batch of Artifex’s American imperial stout HoliDAVE has been hibernating in Wild Turkey barrels for the past year. The winter favorite’s familiar dark chocolate notes will be accented by a punch of bourbon booziness that will truly get you into the holiday spirt. Bottles will be released in mid-December and sold exclusively at the Artifex tasting room in San Clemente. 

Article by Dave Klein.