Beers for cold weather

Most beer drinkers are not affected by the weather. However, as the temperature plummets, a frosty, light, crisp thirst quencher doesn’t quite cut it.

A little more substance is required, so beer lovers tend to cruise more to the heavier, bigger styles with fuller, maltier flavours. These generally contain higher alcohol than warm weather brews and should ideally be served under about 10°C. The following are some great cold-weather beers.

From Belgium comes Brouwerij Van Honsebrouck’s Kasteel Winter. This strong ale is creamy and full, with lots of vanilla notes.

Montreal’s Brasseurs San Gluten Brewery creates a Glutenberg Belgian Double beer that’s spicy and warming with nutmeg and clove flavours.

Brewery Ommegang from New York produces an Abbey Ale that is chock-full of spices and dark fruit. It will even age and morph into a more figgy, caramel offering!

Lagunitas Brown Shugga from California is a barley wine full of hoppy, brown sugary richness.

British Columbia wows with Central City Brewing’s Red Racer Imperial Pale Ale. This brew oozes with malty, red grapefruit zest.

Another IPA from Colorado’s New Belgium Brewing Company is their Accumulation. An easy-drinking style that is similar to a witbier with an IPA twist.

Again from Colorado is the Odell Isolation Ale, an English Strong Ale with malty, caramel, hoppy pleasure.

The Full Sail Brewing Company of Oregon offers up roasted malt, chocolate and hoppy flavours in their smooth Wassail Winter Ale.

Another California delight is Mavericks’ Belgian Style Wit with its peppery, clove-like, zesty character.

If an English Strong Ale is to your liking, then check out Avery Old Jubilation from Colorado complete with caramel and hazelnut complexity.

Affligem’s Noël Christmas Ale is a holiday in a glass with its prune, cherry, toasted malt, clove, cinnamon and cocoa notes.

Here’s a robust Oregon brew that’s sure to please: Widmer Brothers’ Ginger Barrel-Aged Brrrbon ‘13, aged in Bourbon barrels and spiced with ginger, dishes out vanilla, hops, caramel and ginger. Ages well too!

Try Montreal’s McAuslan Brewery’s mocha-coloured St-Ambroise Oatmeal Stout that shines with rich, dark, malty, coffee-like character.

SweetWater Brewing Company’s Whiplash White IPA from Atlanta presents an easy-drinking brew that is perfectly balanced between hops and wheat.

The Scottish-style Winter Ale from the Brooklyn Brewery is delightful displaying toffee, malt, caramel, plums, raisins, brown sugar and nuts.

From the Weyerbacher Brewing Co. of Pennsylvania comes a Winter Ale that is brown, chocolatey and complex.

Winter Warmer with sweet malt, spicy hops and nuttiness is all yours from the No-Li Brewhouse of Washington.

Right here in TO you can indulge in Amsterdam Brewery’s tasty Wee Heavy Scotch Ale that’s dark, bold and bittersweet.

Behold New Holland’s Cabin Fever from Michigan: a fresh, clean brown ale with roasted and coffee nuances.

California creates another winner with the 21st Amendment Brewery’s Fireside Chat: boldly malty, toasty, spicy and cocoa infused.

Belgium comes through with Brouwerij Rodenbach Caractère Rouge. This Flanders red ale, aged in oak and macerated in fresh cherries, raspberries and cranberries, is a crisp, flavourful offering.

Southern Tier Old Man Winter from New York makes an old style ale that’s dark, thick and subtly hoppy.

Close by Etobicoke gives us Nutcracker Porter from the Black Oak Brewery. A sweetish, dark, cinnamon infused, somewhat figgy mouthful!

England gives us Samuel Smith’s Winter Welcome, a traditional English strong ale that’s sure to delight.

Victory from Pennsylvania produces Winter Cheers, a wheat ale that’s fruity with subtle tweaks of banana and citrus.

Give the Great Divide Hibernation Ale from Colorado a go for a real treat. It’s an English-style old ale with dark fruit, roasted malt and caramel intensity.

A Belgian witbier can be had in Bell’s Winter White from Michigan – old world flavour complete with spice and banana yumminess!

Ontario’s Cambellford has Holy Smoke Scotch Ale from the Church-Key Brewing Company. This black brew exudes smoky, peaty, malty goodness.

Finally from North Carolina comes Highland’s Cold Mountain Winter Ale, a spicy dessert in a glass. Chocolate, nuts and red berries abound.


Edward Finstein is a wine writer, award-winning author, TV and radio host, educator, judge

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