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:

FARGO – The first time Cindy Chen saw snowflakes she fell in love, not only with Fargo – the city – but soon afterwards with her husband, Bojin Chen.Never in her wildest dreams did she think she’d one day be part owner of…

“I haven’t been to Fargo in a couple of years,” comedian Spencer Dobson said. “But it’s always had great stage time and funny, enthusiastic comics.”  Born in the small town of Voss, ND (pop 29), Dobson has been all…

Thursday, June 27, 5-11 p.m.Red Raven Espresso Parlor, 916 Main Ave, FargoThe Raven will be opening up the garage and serve up some vegan and vegetarian bbq goods. Live entertainment by SOTOS, Arachnid, Chocha, Cold Front, The…

Wallethub just released a listing of the most fun states in America. Minnesota ranked number seven, South Dakota ranked number 31, and North Dakota ranked number 40. All based on experts examining restaurants, movie theatres, golf…

From Kerosene Lamp To Drone DeliveriesThe world continues to be a very exciting place for an adolescent who spent his evenings after milking my share of four cows reading books from my country school like “Men of Iron” by…

To say that this year’s Bartenders Battle was the best display of talent in the six years since its creation would be an understatement and a disservice to not only the bartenders who made it into the competition, but also the…

All About Food

It’s date night!

by HPR Contributor

By Seng Phengdouangdethsengphengdouangdeth@gmail.comAs things are finally starting to warm up in the region, it’s time to kick that delivery habit you’ve developed all winter long and take your main squeeze out somewhere with…

When asked to describe the sound of Green Blue, Minneapolis based musician Annie Sparrows formerly of the Soviettes and Awesome Snakes laughed and said, “Our friend came up to me after a show and he said ‘Do you like Belle and…

Martin Scorsese embraces the prankster spirit of a longtime inspiration/subject in “Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story.” The confounding testimony is as much mockumentary as documentary, combining new interviews and…

BISMARCK – Six months of preparation boiled down to eight seconds. There were wet plate photographs to capture, a well-known Congresswoman from New Mexico to pick up, reporters to please, and… wait… Representative Debra…

The Cass Act Players will take the stage this weekend to bring “Weather the Storm” to Bonanzaville’s Dawson Hall in West Fargo.“Weather the Storm” is a musical based on the infamous tornado that hit Fargo’s Golden Ridge…

Stand-up comedy is traditionally a one-way exchange. Outside of the odd question addressed to a random audience member, the limit of the spectators’ contribution to the conversation is their laughter at the comedy stylings being…

If you’re from the region you may have sipped, sampled or caught word of a libation often referred to as “red eye” or “wedding whiskey” at some point. In fact some of our friends of German Russia descent swear by it. If…

Wellness

Yoga on the Farm

by Ryan Janke

Every Thursday evening during the month of June, Mara Solberg is inviting people to come out and try Yoga on the Farm. It is a unique yoga experience that was born from an idea that was proposed to Solberg.“I’ve been with Red…

by Devin Joubertdevinlillianjoubert@gmail.comIt’s that beautiful time of the year that’s filled with seasonal decorations, sparkly lights, warm family gatherings, and delicious feasts. I love everything about this time of the…

Last Word

The ten year reunion

by HPR Contributor

By Zach Nerpelzachnerpel@gmail.comI was going by “Zach” on this particular evening. Not like I’d go by anything else in any other situation, but tonight it was determined I’d wear a nametag. I showed up to the Fargo Brewing…