The consumption of beer should not be confined to hot summer days and frolicking in the spring. There are whole hosts of hearty and delicious seasonal brews available in Alberta that are designed to warm your chest and kick father frost squarely in the jewels.
Here is a brief rundown of some of the craft brewed holiday treats that will let you spread a little holiday beer this season.
Alley Kat Brewing “Olde Deuteronomy” Barley Wine 2011 10.3% abv
Despite suffering the misfortune of listing Edmonton, Alberta as its place of origin, Alley Kat Brewing has been pumping out stellar beer for years. This outrageously rich and opulent seasonal beer clocks in at a whopping 10.3% alcohol, earning it the title of “barley wine” (as strong as a wine, but still technically a beer).
This beer has a deep amber colour and aromas of cinnamon spice, rich malt and bourbon soaked nibs. The mouth coating texture of this brash brew is offset by a nervy spine of hops, with a finish reminiscent of spice cake and raisins that leaves pleasant warmth in the chest. Not a beer for the feint of heart, but certainly a great example of the style.
Fullers London Porter – London, UK 5.4% abv
This has been an old standby of mine for years and has become the benchmark by which I judge all other porters, at least in my humble view. This has a beautiful nose of freshly ground coffee and chocolate that always brings a smile to my face.
On the palate this beer delivers amazing depth and complexity without being syrupy or heavy. Flavours of espresso and cocoa lead to a pleasantly bitter finish. One of those classic beers you have to try at least once!
Hailing from exotic Saskatoon, Saskatchewan this delicious seasonal ale is the perfect accompaniment to a roaring fire and a good book. Aroma’s of roasted nuts, spiced apple and clove waft from the glass in a symphony of wintery goodness.
On the palate this delivers flavours of baked apple, chestnuts and toffee as it spreads across the tongue. A burst of refreshing acidity prevents this from being cloying and the beer has a long, pleasant finish. Another pleasant example of a great home grown Canadian micro-brew.
Phillips Brewing Longboat Chocolate Porter – Victoria, BC 5.2% Alc
While some flavoured beers can come across as obnoxious or artificial, this little ditty pulls off its chocolate promise with flying colours. The Phillips Brewing beers have only been available on the market here in Calgary for a short time, but already they are making a big splash in specialty shops.
Brewed in Victoria, British Columbia this porter has a mild nature and captures the pure, smooth essence of baker’s chocolate. Grab a bottle of this and a bar of good dark chocolate and you’ll be the bell of the ball at your next holiday function!
Anchor Brewing Christmas Ale – San Francisco, USA
A perennial favourite of mine, San Francisco staple Anchor Brewing first crafted this delicious Christmas Ale in 1975 and this year marks the 37th release of this seasonal brew.
Although the top-secret recipe changes every year, it is always a sure bet for a delicious time. This years bottling is a deep chestnut-brown in the glass, with aromas of licorice, clove and nutmeg that are warm and comforting.
On the palate a kick of hops keeps this refreshing and the exotic spice make it the perfect accompaniment to a ginger snap cookies or roasted chestnuts. Does anyone even roast chestnuts anymore? I guess they might if they had a glass of this in hand.
Although this is available in the standard 6-pack, the real beauty of this beer is that it is also bottled in magnums! That’s right, 1.5 liters of glorious goodness. I always pick up a few bottles of this to take to Christmas parties and dinners and it’s always a hit!