I’ll be discussing both the base beers and their spices to give you an idea of the interplay of flavours.
While our first beer is the most mass-market offering we’ll be discussing, it is certainly no slouch.
The Samuel Adams Winter Lager
The Samuel Adams Winter Lager is a clean, bright lager enhanced by the addition of orange peel, ginger and cinnamon to add a delicious Christmas cake like dimension to complement its caramel notes. It displays a restrained and subtle herbal hoppy bitterness and finishes smoothly with some tart orange and spice. As a hearty winter beer, it clocks in at 5.6% ABV, but the alcohol remains restrained and never overpowers. It’s delightfully direct and unabashed in its spicing and will both refresh and surprise the drinker.
The Double Chocolate Cranberry Stout
How do I know this is a winter beer?
Well, the fact that it’s also known as “Winter Beard” is a dead giveaway.
It is dominated by strong chocolate notes from the initial sniff all the way through to the finish. I’ve always found the cranberry to be very elusive in this beer and the 2013 Vintage is no different…. and yes, beer can be aged, but more on that another time.
On first sniff, I found a lot of dark chocolate intermixed with roasted malt with just the slightest hint of berry fruit in the background. It’s a very dark beer, but I wouldn’t necessarily call it black, and it pours very dark brown with some ruby notes along the edges.
On initial sip, there’s some light bitterness that comes from either the hops or perhaps the dark malt, but that gives way fairly quickly to notes of coffee, dark chocolate and a strong sweet finish.
Unlike some chocolate stouts that can be very thick and reminiscent of chocolate cake, this one still has a relatively light body, thus giving it some easy drinkability. The 8% ABV is fairly well hidden so don’t get carried away chasing the chocolate.
Moylan’s White Christmas Spiced Winter Lager
Moylan’s White Christmas Spiced Winter Lager, is another balanced winter beer with the clean drinkability of a lager combined with solid spicing. Moylan’s is known for making a number of Irish-inspired ales and this one combines some of the ruby tones you see in an Irish Red Ale with the tasty Christmas cake spicing of many winter beers.
Where this beer really shines, however, is the orange peel counterbalancing the caramel and spice both in the nose and the finish. It maintains a delightful balance from start to finish and I found myself discovering new flavours with some sweet toffee appearing on the nose as it warmed. At 6% ABV, you may be able to enjoy more than one of these beers in front of a roaring fire.
Father John’s Winter Ale
The first thing you’ll notice is that it comes in a 1 litre or roughly a quarter gallon re-stoppable bottle.
Winter spiced beers are traditionally ales and this beer is definitely richer and more intense than the lagers we’ve discussed so far. It features a load of spices, including cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and vanilla and has a BIG spicy warming quality and not just because of the 7% ABV.
The ginger and cinnamon are huge players in this beer and appear in the nose and all the way through the finish.
For me, it’s the best brand of beer for winter… bold, rich, spicy and warming while somehow never quite falling out of balance. It’s beers like this help that us survive the Polar Vortex we experience in Canada every year.
So there you have it, some of the more well known as well less well known beer brands to keep you warm from the inside this winter.