The annual deluge of winter brews is upon us, perfect for pairing with the heartiest seasonal fare. So put the moose roast in the oven and sip slowly—most of these pack a wallop.
1. Winter Welcome
Samuel Smith’s Old Brewery, U.K.
$3.95/550 ml, 6%
The classic winter ale from the Yorkshire brewery has a caramel centre followed by a woody bitterness.
Drink with: Roasted chestnuts. The caramel flavour will wrap around the rich, nutty goodness, while the hops will leave the mouth clean and dry.
2. Cuvée Van De Keizer Blauw
Brouwerij Het Anker, Belgium
$7.55/750 ml, 11%
This Belgian beauty is fine as-is, but a tad sweet—age it for a year or so to mellow it, if you can wait.
Drink with: Toffee pudding or gingerbread cookies to match the notes of banana, caramel, and raisin. (When matching beer with dessert, the beer should be sweeter.)
3. Barley Wine 2012
Mill Street Brewery, Ont.
$12.95/500 ml, 11.5%
This ruby brew packs an aroma of dates, figs, and whiskey-soaked cake. It’s aged in Kentucky bourbon barrels, bringing a boozy, vanilla-rich flavour to the fore.
Drink with Christmas pudding or Stilton cheese. The gnarly cheese will cut the sweetness, and plummy pudding will match the beer.
4. Bog Water
Beau’s All Natural Brewing Company, Ont.
$4.35/600 ml, 6.6%
Instead of hops, Beau’s uses wild, foraged gale (common in the middle ages) to lend notes of cinnamon and pepper.
Drink with: Tofurkey. The malty quality of Beau’s vegan-friendly option will match Tofurkey’s caramelized flavours, and the spices sing with parsley and rosemary in veggie stuffing. (It’ll pair fine with regular turkey as well.)
5. Craftsman Oatmeal Chocolate Stout
Renaissance Brewing Company, New Zealand $5.95/500 ml, 4.9%
Made with dry cocoa and organic oats, this brew has a creamy, mocha head and a stout-like body, with notes of dark chocolate and coffee.
Drink with: Roast moose. The lean beefiness calls for a rich accent, so keep the gravy light and let the stout do the rest.
6. La Terrible
$10.95/750 ml, 10%
This chestnut ale has notes of fig, chocolate, gingerbread, and some boozy heat.
Drink with: Tourtière. It’s hard to match the richness of the Quebec pie’s veal, beef, and onion, but La Terrible’s malty core will do nicely.