When it started to get cold back in November, and we were past the time appropriate for “oktoberfests,” I decided it was time to get some “winter beers” into the café. The problem was that I didn’t really know what a “winter beer” was. It turned out that no one really knew what defined a winter beer – although the most common characteristics include malty taste, complexity and high alcohol content. In addition to these characteristics, some winter beers have strong fruity or spicy overtones. Others are flavored with vanilla or chocolate. In short, these beers tend to make one feel “cozier.”
So far, we’ve served Brooklyn Winter Ale, Wachusett Winter Ale, and Peak Organic Winter Session Ale. Brooklyn Winter (@brooklynbrewery) is a smooth and creamy Scottish ale that hits somewhat malty and bready on the nose, and pours a clear bright amber with a small head. It has a reasonable mixture of hops to balance the sweet malty flavor. Other flavors include chocolate and caramel as well as hints of butterscotch.
Wachusett Winter (@wachusettbrew) pours a nice amber color with a white foamy head. Wachusett Winter is also a Scottish ale, made with crystal, Munich, smoked and special malts. The beer has a ruby color and a malty aroma. The malts come out in the taste as well, with notes of caramel, roasted nuts and a light fruitiness. Wachusett Brewery asserts that no spices are needed for this rich flavored brew!
Peak Organic Winter Session Ale (@peakbrewing) is a winter wheat beer that uses dark malting to produce subtle toasty flavors. Peak Organic single-hops the beer but then also dry-hops the beer with Citra hops from a friend’s farm. The Citra hops give the beer pineapple overtones that contrast with the toastiness of the flavor. Winter Session pours a darkened amber color, but the brew is very clear. The aroma contains wheat, citrus, bananas, dark malts and a good amount of hops. The taste begins crisp and hoppy, and then rounds out with dark roasted malts and hints of caramel and roasted malts. Thus the beginning sweetness becomes moderately bitter in the finish.
We’ll be trying out more “winter beers” in the café over the coming winter months. What’s your winter preference? Are you a Scottish Ale type? A dark wheat connoisseur? Or do you like it spicy? Come to the café and find out!
Your friendly bartender,