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Winter Wonders: Round One

Three winter beers

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The solstice hasn't yet arrived, but the nighttime temps are dipping into the 30s—perfect for trying some of the first winter seasonal arrivals. Here are three different takes on the style: Deschutes travels the winter warmer route, Sierra Nevada's focus (as always) is on the hops and Odell has opted for something in between.

Deschutes Jubelale, $1.50-$1.80

Light coffee in color with a persistent, two-finger head, the alluring, lightly sweet aromas are fruit driven with fig, dried cherry, ripe apple and plum backed by toffee and soft hops. In the mouth, creamy malt leads off, colored by pear and apricot fruit along with touches of pepper and roasted grain. The hops come through on the finish, lending a cleansing balance.

Sierra Nevada Celebration Fresh Hop IPA, $1.50-$1.80

For more than 30 years Celebration has set the standard for a hop-driven, winter seasonal. This golden hued brew is no exception. Opens with piney hop aromas wrapped around silky malt and caramel. Round and rich on the palate, there's a splash of fresh, fruity hops up front, lots of bright biscuit and malt, with a touch of citrus. Those hops get a bit edgier on the deliciously dry finish.

Odell Isolation Ale, $2-$2.30

A ruby tinged, amber pour with a decent off-white head that collapses quickly. The aromas are a mix of sourdough, caramel, earthy grain and leather. On the softer side of the winter brew spectrum, with smooth malt playing against subtle, citrusy hops. Seemed a bit subdued at first, but the style grew on me—it's an easy drinking, impeccably balanced seasonal.