Dogfish Head Worldwide Stout
Alcohol by volume: 15% to 20% ABV
This big beast from Delaware debuted back in 1999 and has given folks near Rehoboth Beach a reason to welcome winter that doesn't involve shoveling loud packs of summer tourists out of town.
Once the most potent beer on the planet, Worldwide Stout drinks more like a cordial than a creamy pint of Guinness. It tastes a bit like port and has the slow burn to back that up. The folks at Dogfish Head recommend keeping it in the cellar for a season or so to take the heat off and give it a profile more akin to a roasty stout, but even then it's going to be a bit stronger than most six-packs party guests will stick in the fridge.
Southern Tier Choklat
Alcohol by volume: 10% ABV
In any other world there'd be lines around the block at New York liquor stores and fanboys wearing wristbands every time Southern Tier released one of the imperial stouts in its Blackwater Series. The Lakewood, N.Y., brewer makes seasonal stouts that taste like coffee, mocha and creme brulee, but perhaps its tastiest treat of all is this chocolate-infused winter offering that appears each November.
Debuting just five years ago and always available in high supply, Chokolat takes two strains of hops and four kinds of malts and ferments them with bittersweet Belgian chocolate. It finishes with a deep chocolate flavor and just a hint of dark cherry and serves as the perfect dessert for holiday dinners where you just can't stomach another cookie or slice of pie.Founders Breakfast Stout
Alcohol by volume: 8.3% ABV
Founders stouts are kind of a big deal. The Grand Rapids, Mich., brewery had to scold merchants last year for gouging prices on its Canadian Breakfast Stout. Its KBS bourbon stout until recently was a beer trader's best friend. Original-recipe Breakfast Stout, however, is just damned tasty. Sold in four-packs and still somewhat of a tough find outside of Michigan, Breakfast Stout is smoother, creamier and more pleasant than its alcohol content suggests. The combination of flaked oats, bitter and imported chocolates and Sumatra and Kona coffee mellows it out and gives it a smooth, milkshake taste that just induces cravings. We found a stockpile of four-packs sitting among cases of Corona and Bud Light at a liquor store in Northern New Jersey during Christmas vacation last year and still think local dismissal of it was one of the best presents we got all year. It comes out in September and reportedly stays around until February, but is known to deplete well before then. Black Friday shopping rules apply: If you see it, grab it.