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Slow Cooker Mushroom Winter Ale Chicken & What is a Winter Ale?

Slow Cooker Mushroom Winter Ale Chicken

Slow Cooker Mushroom Winter Ale Chicken -1

What is a Winter Ale?

This is the time for generalities. With the Winter Ales, these seasonal favorites, it’s essential. Because you can get specific, and even technical with other beer styles, but the vast spectrum that these beers run along won’t allow for strict categorization. Winter ales are often what’s called an Old Ale, a rich amber-colored malty ale with an above average alcohol content. But of course, that’s frequently not the case. Winter ales can be stouts, Belgians, brown ales, and even IPA’s.

ABV (alcohol by volume) is a bit of a commonality among these late-in-the-year beers, most of which have an ABV around or above 8%. But, here we are again with the discrepancies. Winter Ales can be as low as 5% and as high as 20%.

Flavor seems to be the best way to round-up these beautiful beers, most of them taste like the holidays. Winter warmers (as they are often called) most commonly have flavors of cinnamon, cloves, figs, dates, nuts, toffee, and chocolate. Most are malty and low hops, but there are of course outliers, some of these beer will give you all those holiday flavors you love while still kicking you a big hop flavor, like this Abominable Winter Ale from Hopworks Beer. It’s pretty perfect for those of you IPA loving hop heads that still want to get into the Christmas Beer spirit.

So, in summation, Winter Ales are mostly Ole Ales, with a higher ABV, malty, with flavors of nuts and spice. But they can be IPA’s. Or stouts. Or have a 6% ABV. To clarify, a winter ale is whatever the brewer wants it to be, and if you’re smart, you’ll just drink it without asking too many questions.

Slow Cooker Mushroom Winter Ale Chicken



Slow Cooker Mushroom Winter Ale Chicken


  • 3 tbs olive oil
  • 2 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • salt and pepper
  • ¼ cup chopped white onions
  • 8 wt ounces sliced crimini mushrooms
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh sage
  • 3 tbs all purpose flour
  • 1 ¼ cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup winter ale or brown ale
  • 1 tbs brown sugar omit if using a low hop, malty beer


  • Heat the olive oil in a pan over high heat.
  • Sprinkle the chicken on all sides with salt and pepper. Sear chicken on both sides in a hot pan until browned (chicken will not be cooked through).
  • Transfer the chicken to a slow cooker.
  • Lower the heat to medium, stir in the onions, cook until browned. Add the mushrooms, rosemary and sage, cook until darkened and softened.
  • Sprinkle with flour, stir until combined. Add the chicken broth, beer, and brown sugar, scraping to deglaze the pan. Pour the mushroom mixture over the chicken, stir to combine.
  • Cook in a slow cooker on high for 4 hours or until chicken shreds easily with a fork. Salt and pepper to taste. (if sauce doesn't thicken as much as you like, add to a pan over medium high heat, simmer until thickened.)
  • Serve over rice or pasta.


Slow Cooker Mushroom Winter Ale Chicken

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Brian December 5, 2014 um 10:43 am

This looks epic!! I wish we could get HUB here in the Bay Area. Had that beer once and it’s delish! I was able to hit the brewery when I was in PDX earlier this year. Their poutine is amazing! Cheers and happy holidays!


Meg @ Noming thru Life December 5, 2014 um 1:40 pm

OMG yum!! Chicken, mushrooms and beer all in one – my favs!!! It’s funny because once winter hits I actually pull out the slow cooker more often. You would think I’d use it most in the summer to reduce heat in the house, but nope. I guess I’m keeping with whole hibernation idea and being as lazy as possible with my slow cookers help.


addie | culicurious December 6, 2014 um 11:22 am

What wonderful and delicious looking comfort food! 🙂 Also: thanks for the winter ale explanation. I can’t even imagine a beer at 20% ABV. O__O


Kristen December 8, 2014 um 9:58 am

Do you think this would work just as well if I just simmered it on the stove and put in some leftover chicken?


Jackie December 8, 2014 um 10:38 am

Probably. Keep it at a low simmer until thickened, add in cooked chicken at the end, just until warmed.


Carol December 9, 2014 um 12:21 pm

all of my fav ingredients!


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