(CNN) — If you’re looking for a “spirited” way to ring in 2016 but want to ditch the Champagne, why not pop open a beer this year?
I’m not talking about grabbing a Miller High Life, the self-proclaimed Champagne of beers. The New Year deserves something a little more special. Many flavorful and powerful craft beers are perfectly suited for that midnight toast.
Belgian beers, barrel-aged beers or strong winter ales make great alternatives to the bubbly. Here are a few standout choices to help you welcome the new year.
Stone Brewing Xocoveza for the Holidays & the New Year
Stone’s take on Mexican hot chocolate is brewed with cocoa, coffee, pasilla peppers, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg. It’s sweet, it’s spicy, and it’s a great beer for gathering around that New Year’s Eve bonfire.
Firestone Walker 19th Anniversary Ale
Each year, Firestone Walker produces a special blend of its barrel-aged beers to celebrate the California brewery’s anniversary. Local winemakers collaborate with brewers to come up with a custom blend for the birthday beer. This year, the beer is a mix of the brewery’s Parabola, Stickee Monkee, Bravo and Velvet Merkin. It’s a complex beer that is meant to be shared, savored and enjoyed with good friends.
Victory Brewing Co. Golden Monkey
This Belgian-style Tripel may be light in color, but it is full of flavor and packs a punch. The monkey will appeal to both beer and wine drinkers, and it even comes in corked 750ml bottles so traditionalists can get in on the cork-popping fun. As luck would have it, 2016 is the year of the monkey, so get another bottle for Chinese New Year in February.
Fremont Brewing Barrel Aged Abominable Winter Ale
Abominable is Fremont’s winter ale, aged in 12- and 15-year-old American whiskey barrels. From your first sip, you will definitely fall in love with this ale, which is the perfect nightcap or dessert beer. It delivers the perfect balance of chocolate, coffee, dried fruit and of course bourbon. Fans of the Seattle-based brewery refer to this beer as simply the B-BOMB.
Highland Brewing Co. Cold Mountain Winter Ale
Asheville, North Carolina’s, first craft brewery has seen lots of competition pop around it, including the likes of Sierra Nevada and Oskar Blues, but Highland Brewing Co. still has one of the most sought-after seasonals in the Southeast. Cold Mountain is a brown ale with vanilla, hazelnut and other spices and flavors added. The recipe varies from year to year and is a nod to winter classics like Anchor’s Christmas Ale.
The Lost Abbey Judgment Day
This Belgian Quad might just save your soul, should the world end this New Year. Judgment Day is a dark strong ale made with a ton of raisins: 180 pounds per 30-barrel batch, to be exact. What drives this beer is the brown sugar sweetness along with dried fruits and some spiciness. Drink one at midnight and save a few bottles for years to come; this beer will probably get better with age.
Brooklyn Brewing Local 1
Local 1 is Belgian Strong Golden Ale, a sweet and fruity brew perfect for that midnight toast. This beer is 100% bottle-conditioned, which means it goes through a refermentation in the bottle and emerges with a Champagne-like carbonation. This is definitely the gateway to get you to make that jump to craft beer.
With beers this fancy, who needs Champagne?