Tracker Pixel for Entry

​The soothing spices of winter

by Chris Larson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | Beer Snob | January 16th, 2017

As the deep cold settles in and we retreat indoors to the warmth of a fireplace or pull out the heavy socks and blankets, it is common for many of us to turn towards darker, higher alcohol beers like stouts and porters.

Not to be neglected is the seasonal winter favorite, the winter warmer. Though the traditional English version would share the same malty, sweet characteristics, I chose instead to focus this week on what we mostly see in our market: the spiced winter warmer ale.

Descending from the medieval style of mulling cider, known as wassailing, most modern winter warmers have different varieties and amounts of spices like nutmeg and cinnamon and often deliver flavors of dried fruit, caramel, toffee, and cherry to compliment the spices and really bring warm cozy sensations with each sip. Typically, these beers range from 5.5% to 8% ABV and usually pour deep dark red to completely black.

Hailing from Fort Collins, Colorado, Odell Brewing Company knows a thing or two about the isolating power of winter weather and offers up a delicious winter warmer called Isolation Ale, with light hints of spice and dark fruit over a solid malty, bready, sweet caramel backbone. A fairly clean finish with a slight linger of bitter hops encouraged me to take another sweet malty sip.

Marshall, Michigan is no stranger to the cold of winter either, and in addition to being freaks with fabulous beards, the crew at Dark Horse brewing is also known for their seasonal winter warmer 4 Elf. The packaging screams Christmas and the minute you pop the cap off a bottle you know why. Assaulting the nose with nutmeg, cinnamon and somewhat piney bitter hops this beer smells and tastes like Christmas through and through. It instantly reminded me of the pumpkin beer tastings but instead of pumpkin, these spices are wrapped around a sweet biscuit base. I would consider this on the “extreme” side of spiced winter warmers and while not for everyone, I found the spices to be in balance even if they were altogether overwhelming.

Anchor Brewing Company from San Francisco may not know much about harsh winters and indoor isolation but they have the Christmas spirit and bottle up a different batch of their Christmas Ale each year. While the flavors vary from year to year, typically it is packed full of flavors and aromas that always excite the senses sip after sip. This year, I found so many different flavors with each sip from chocolate, vanilla, raisin, molasses, candied fruit, and of course that winter warmer sweet caramel base but what most surprised me was the incredible aroma of fresh cut spruce that hit my nose the second I opened the bottle. Always different, but always a favorite, I make it a point to seek out a bottle of this every year.

Stir Crazy is not only a great name, for Indeed Brewing Company’s winter warmer ale but a great beer for fans of malty beers with light chocolate and dark fruit flavors. Of the ones available locally, this winter warmer leans most towards an English style, with no real spices but packed full of chocolate, caramel, vanilla, and dark fruit flavors. It was also the darkest of the winter warmers I sampled, with the pour being completely black and completely opaque. They use real cacao, vanilla, and pulverized raisins in this beer and the hearty flavors come through in each sip.

Seek these and more winter warmers at your local retailer, restaurant, or bar -- but do it quickly. Though it may seem like the longest season to us, in the beer world the winter seasonal is gone before you know it.

Recently in:

cshagen@hpr1.comBISMARCK - The morning after law enforcement cleared the “Treaty Camp” on October 27, 2016, hundreds of activists defending Native American treaty rights, water rights, and land rights, lined up north of three…

Local architect constructing new out of old in BakerMany people start a passion project after a certain turning point in their life. It could be something they’ve thought about for years but never acted on, or come on a whim. …

Sunday, June 25, noon to 5pmHQ: Great Northern Bicycle, 425 Broadway N, FargoRoute this time is entirely on the Fargo side, including newly reconstructed 2nd Street. Play, engage in a more physically active lifestyle, experience…

Albert Einstein once said, “The revolution introduced me to art, and in turn, art introduced me to the revolution.”This past Sunday marked the 58th year of the Rourke’s Great Midwestern. Though Jim O’Rourke, founder of the…

From Homer’s Odyssey to Buddy Holly: The times they are a-changin’When Robert Zimmerman, born in Duluth and raised in Hibbing, better known as Bob Dylan, won the Nobel Prize for Literature (worth almost a cool $1 million), he…

The moment of truth has arrived. After seven weeks of sampling and judging some of the finest libations in the area the results for this year’s Cocktail Showdown have arrived. Christopher Larson, Raul Gomez and Sabrina Hornung…

On a sultry Thursday night, I sauntered into Luna. Situated on South University next to Bernie’s Beer and Wine, it isn’t exactly a hole in the wall, but it is certainly off the beaten path, and as described by their motto it is…

Pursuing a hobby, much less a career in music is more difficult than just picking up an instrument. Though the passion may be there, the cost of equipment and lessons can be prohibitive.Of course this is something that…

A couple of classic courtroom dramas and a romantic melodrama about theatrical ambition, all adapted from popular novels of their day, are among the recently released Blu-rays by Kino-Lorber. All were made by major filmmakers with…

“I was devastated, scared, and lost. My family’s world changed and our relationships with one another changed too.” said Lonna Whiting.Whiting, co-founder of Brains on the Plains, went on. “In addition to a dramatic shift…

Author, professor, historian and now playwright: Dr. Charlie Barber has taken his love of history to the stage with his new musical, “No Backseat Driver.”Barber’s play is the story of two North Dakota heroes: “Wild Bill”…

Humor

​Talking to strangers

by Sabrina Hornung

“I don’t have a tour, like, on the back of a sweatshirt,” comedian Paula Poundstone says. “I go out every weekend. This weekend I went out Friday, Saturday and Monday. Mostly it’s Friday/Saturday or Thursday through…

Here in the upper midwest we love the summer season for so many different reasons but two of the big reasons I love summer are fresh produce and being outside with a beer in my hand. Sometimes, when I’m spending the day in the…

Wellness

​Natural sleep aids

by Erin Oberlander

As I interact with clients and friends and family alike, one of the issues that comes up commonly is that of sleep. It seems that in our modern world, getting deep, nourishing sleep has become a challenge for some and a complete…

Live and Learn

​The other shoe

by HPR Contributor

By Elizabeth Nawrotnawrot@mnstate.eduI look up from my hotel lobby breakfast astonished to see a framed print of Wassily Kandinsky's "Mit und Gegen,” a masterpiece of color and composition that just happens to be my favorite…

The North Dakota Department of Health has called “Bullsh*t!” on Meridian Energy’s application to construct its Davis Oil Refinery three miles from Theodore Roosevelt National Park.In fact, in a strongly-worded letter to…