Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Jack Frosted Mugs

The mercury is finally starting to drop here in the upper midwest; we saw snowflakes yesterday! So, in anticipation of that first onslaught from Old Man Winter (which us seasoned Midwesterners know can come at any time now), it's time to suggest some good brews for winter.

To me, a good winter beer is full-bodied and malty. It doesn't have the intense hops of an IPA or APA, nor is it light and crisp like a Pilsner or an American lager. A good winter brew is hearty, malty, and satisfying. It doesn't have to be drank at a cold temperature, and it pairs well with the savory meals and treats of the holiday season. With that in mind, to the beer!

Capital Winter Skål - Middleton, Wisconsin

Capital Brewery, located in the Madison suburb of Middleton, is an all-around excellent brewery. Focusing on the German styles brought over to Wisconsin from the old-world, Capital produces solid annuals like their Wisconsin Amber and Island Wheat, and a bevy of seasonals including a great domestic Oktoberfest, and their Winter Skål. The Skål is a rich amber color with an off-white head. It has a very malty aroma with very little hops present. The taste is earthy with a balance of subtle spice. Skål is a nice medium bodied brew that clings to the palatte, but doesn't have the "chew your beer" feel, or the rediculous spices you'll find in some other winter beers.

Summit Winter Ale - Saint Paul, Minnesota

I'm hardly one to recommend something from Summit; their flagship Extra Pale Ale, the IPA, and the Grand Pilsner are all easily surpassed by many domestic breweries, but I have to hand it to them: Summit Winter Ale is good. It pours a very dark, coffee brown, which is accompanied by a subtle coffee taste. The roasted malts are very noticeable in a "winter warmer" style, but are subtley balanced by Williamette, Fuggle and Tettenanger hops. The beer comes in a 6.2% ABV, but beneath the malt start and hop finish, you don't notice an alcohol flavor. This is far and away Summit's best beer.

McEwan's Scotch Ale - United Kingdom (Scotland)

Clocking in at 8% ABV, McEwan's Scotch Ale is an example of a strong scotch ale, or a "wee heavy." It isn't a winter beer in the sense that it is a winter seasonal (it's brewed year round), it's just a good brew to have in winter. McEwan's is a deep copper and is a carmelly, malty sweet delight. Are there hints of cola in there? There are definitely hints of alcohol in there. Like most Scotch beers, this one doesn't have the hops as bittering agents; it's smooth and solid. It may not be a winter seasonal, but it will sure warm you up.

Links of Interest:
Capital Brewery
Summit Brewing

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1 comment:

Amber Toner said...

Amber note -- I will enjoy a McEwan's no matter what the weather! ; )