Craft beer fanatics may feel a twinge of panic when spending time on the East End in the dead of winter, but no worries—there are spots out there that offer some seasonally suitable suds.
But then again, perhaps you don’t know why one sort of ale is apropos come a certain time of year—but aficionados do. For them, drinking is an art, so if you want to come across with craft class, here’s a quick cheat tip: go dark. Pros in the know tend to classify a “winter ale”—AKA “strong ales” or “winter warmers”—by a heavy brown or black appearance. Furthermore, most are generalized by strong taste, which means a slower intake is usually the correct way to imbibe.
So now it’s Winter. You’ve forsaken the final Jitney and stayed way past Tumbleweed Tuesday. The cutest things on the beaches now are seals, and parking is a snap. You’ve decided to bundle up and head out for a beer—but where to begin? A wise and laidback choice would be the Southampton Publick House. Always a fine fix for hops-powered beverages, it’s a brewery and pub that is super-casual and beloved for the beverages it concocts. Not everything available is a winter fit, but its Imperial Porter is available on tap; a mix of seven malts, anticipate a dark hue and hints of chocolate, coffee and toffee when tugging on one of these. (40 Bowden Sq.)
However, while the Publick House is built for beer lovers, it’s an island onto itself as the next Southampton nightspot is more than walking distance away, which makes Amagansett a worthy town when things are at their most frigid. Outsiders may not know about the awesomeness of Amagansett, but in the summer, fun fans can easily stroll the “triangle across the Square,” as Indian Wells Tavern, Stephen Talkhouse and Meeting House are all nearby Amagansett Square, the town green. Sadly, ‘Talkhouse is closed until March, but those in the know are aware that the other two spots are still up and running. Hidden within the depths of the Square, Meeting House is an upscale bar and restaurant, and it’s there winter ale lovers can currently find Winter White Ale from Bell’s Brewery on the menu: a yeasty, citrus-ish wheat beverage, it lacks the murkiness most winter beers tend to feature. Another choice is the Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.’s Celebration Ale, whose label demonstrates its seasonal nature with a depiction of a snowed-in log cabin. Also sans a muddy appearance, the Celebration Ale is a copper-toned IPA that promises its contents include extremely fresh hops, which fans say clearly comes through in its aroma and flavor. (4 Amagansett Sq.)
As for Indian Wells Tavern, expect more of a straight-up pub, and it doesn’t strive to be overly beer-minded. However, despite its more mainstream selection of brews, you can currently find Arrogant Bastard Ale on its menu. Concocted by the CA Stone Brewing Co., this strong ale is known for its edgy taste and brownish-red appearance. On the other hand, those in search of a more familiar option equipped with a fitting dark pigment can also tackle a practically-black Guinness Stout. (177 Main St.)
On the other hand, Sag Harbor is also a Hamptons milieu that offers a choice of close-by stops that stay open 12 months a year. In the mix is The Cuddy, a gastropub that serves up rich, comforting dishes—but also recognizes the time of year with a cold-weather cider from the Vermont Hard Cider Company: the Woodchuck Winter Chill. Only available in the winter, the ‘Chill’s apple core (as in its center, not the fruit’s seedy middle) is embellished by oak aging and notes of vanilla. However, if you’d rather stick with true beer, Mother’s Milk Stout of Keegan Ales is also on the carte du jour. Hailing from upstate (Kingston), this particular beer is creamy, dark and somewhat sweet—but despite its shadowy complexion, it supersedes any seasonal classification. (29 Main St.)