Winter Warmers - Great Beers to Drink During the Winter
We've been spared the cold weather so far here in South-West London, but that's not likely to last.
So we thought we would highlight some great beers to warm you up after an afternoon or a day out in the cold. A winter beer needs to be dark to provide some sweetness, higher in alcohol to generate that warming feeling in your throat and less carbonated to provide a smooth, lingering taste.
Here are our top 3 winter warmers:
Oerbier – 9%
This was the first beer brewed by de Dolle Brouwers - the highly regarded Belgian microbrewery - and continues to be a popular classic.
It's made using a range of different malts giving it a liquorice sweetness alongside plum and grape-like fruitiness. For a dark beer it has an unusually harsh bitterness and there's very little attempt to mask its strength, with a strong alcohol burn coming through. The label on the bottle says “Nat and Straf”, which translates to "Wet and Strong" and is to be taken as a typical euphemism from these "crazy" brewers.
Dark Star Imperial Stout - 10.5%
In Russia it gets really cold and this particular beer style, the Imperial Stout, was for years brewed by English brewers uniquely for the Russians, and in particular for their empress Catherine the Great. Dark Star's version is true to the style. The aroma is of raisin-like fruits and, already, hints of alcohol.
The texture is thick. The taste - rich roasted malts with tones of pepper and blackcurrant. Its bound to leave you rosy-cheeked, much like Catherine the Great seems to always be portrayed!
Yorkshire Stingo - 9%
...and up in Yorkshire it gets pretty cold too. This is one of my favourite beers at the moment, a great example of a style very difficult to find these days - Barley Wine.
Samuel Smith's version is fermented in stone and then matured for at least a year in very old oak casks. The oak undoubtedly imparts some of the very complex flavours to this beer. There is raisin, treacle, vanilla, prune, madeira, ripe fruits and a wonderful "vintage" taste plus a subtle alcohol tickling. I like to drink this from a smallish stemmed open-ended glass to get the full aroma and sip it like a digestif. Who needs an open-fire when you've got one of these.