Best Winter Beers 2014-2015

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Best Winter Beers

Now that winter is upon us, you’ll no doubt be busy stocking up on the festive treats that make this time of year so great. Mince pies and mulled wine are always a favourite, but this year, why not add a divine winter beer to your shopping list.

Beer’s fantastic ability to encapsulate the winter environment through rich character and subtle spice makes it a truly fantastic beverage in the winter months. Often dark with warm flavours, a winter beer will always satisfy when sat in front of the fire on a chilly evening.

Nothing frustrates ale drinkers more than a dreadful lager being forced upon them, especially on Christmas day. So avoid any dispute this year and stock up on some of these beers that will leave both you and your guests truly satisfied.

The beers chosen have a diverse range of qualities which really make them stand out from the crowd and I’m confident that they will offer just what one looks for in a winter beer.

best winter beers 2014

Blitzen 4.0%
This ruby red ale is a creation of the Black Sheep Brewery in Masham. Blitzen has great drinkability and it’s beautifully complex palate is really enjoyable. Produced with plenty of hops and hint of orange peel, Blitzen has superb balance that packs both sweet and bitter notes. The interesting combination of orange peel and muscovado sugar work remarkably well to provide a unique take on a Christmas beer. Its aroma has a subtle suggestion of chocolate-orange and is truly irresistible. The quirky presentation of the bottle adds even more character to this cheeky little number. Take a couple of these on a long December walk for ultimate enjoyment!

“Flavoursome and crisp”

St Mungo Lager 4.9%
West Brewery of Glasgow have produced a stunningly good lager here. They boast their commitment to producing beer in accordance with the German Purity Law of 1516 which states that only hops, water, yeast and barley should be used to create the perfect beer. St Mungo provides a beautifully crisp palate with a delicate, warm finish. The brewing process, using simple ingredients, allows the hops to take the reins and dominate the beer with a great fruitiness which seduces the taste buds. I would recommend this to any lager drinker as St Mungo depicts everything a lager should be; incredibly flavoursome and wonderfully crisp. Best served chilled on Christmas Eve alongside those delicious Christmas nibbles.

Gallia India Pale Ale 4.7%
A fetching label is the first of several cute attributes which make this a quality addition to your fridge this winter. The classic retro label invites you to take a look and on discovering the beer is native to Paris, you are bound to be intrigued. Crack open the bottle and Gallia will take you back to your summer holiday on the continent. The aroma is quite simply astounding and everything you look for in a quality IPA.

It oozes tropical notes and the taste fills the mouth with hints of citrus and fruit. The flavour is prominent throughout the drinking process as the tip of the tongue captures the sweetness and the back of the throat collects the lovely bitterness. Gallia IPA will provide a great Christmas gift allowing you to reminisce over summers past. Enjoy on New Year’s Day before booking a week in the south of France!

“Silky, smooth gem”

Brewdog: Brixton Porter 5.0%
The exciting Aberdeen-based brewery have created a lovely, rich porter with a beautifully smooth texture. The dark beer carries notes of chocolate and its full body packs a great kick. Known as ‘The Dark Renaissance’, Brixton was designed as a contemporary version of the 18th Century classic porter. When poured into the elegant Brewdog glass, this stunning dark beer could be confused with a work of art. Brewdog’s trendy take on beer will not fail to impress and a case of Brixton would be the perfect gift this Christmas. Accompany this silky, smooth gem with a fat slice of hot chocolate fudge cake.

Siberia 5.7%
Crafted by Ilkley Brewery in collaboration with renowned beer-writer Melissa Cole, Siberia is a great Yorkshire beer with a very subtle hint of rhubarb. A unique take on a saison classic, this dry beer is a great example of a British-made, Belgian beer. The inclusion of rhubarb gives the beer a stunningly sweet finish and its dry and crisp texture makes it incredibly moreish. Try Siberia alongside a delightful rhubarb crumble with lashes of cream.

best winter beers 2015

Shepherd Neame: Christmas Ale 7.0%
A regular for Shepherd Neame, Christmas Ale is a classic beer which encapsulates the Christmas spirit. It combines fruit and spice to create a beautiful rich flavour. The complex taste of this beer provides hints of rum, toffee and biscuit and when followed by the long bitter finish, leaves you yearning for more. Along with the lovely winter flavour, the Faversham-based brewery has bought into the Christmas spirit with its vintage, merry label which encapsulates its traditional values. I recommend this one in early December when decorating the tree, it’s guaranteed to get the festive juices flowing.

“Warmth and satisfaction”

Saddle Black 7.0%
This black beer is Purity Brewing Companies seasonal ale, brewed in celebration of the bicycle. Described as a gnarly black beer, this ale brings complexity throughout. The aroma is packed with hoppy characters and a hint of smokiness. As you drink the beer you notice a development in the aroma as orange becomes prominent with a suggestion of black pepper. On the palate, your tongue becomes aroused with flavour. It has a great, full body with the bitterness producing a suggestion of fresh espresso.

It’s interesting that a beer with an ABV of 7.0% proves so drinkable. It has a unique characteristic whereby you notice a different flavour with every sip and by the time you’ve finished, you crave another. A truly interesting beer, Saddle Black is packed with originality. Get a case of this for Christmas day, share it with friends and accept the credit for finding such a great beer.

Bourbon Barrel Bearded Lady: Imperial Brown Stout 10.5%
One word; wow! Magic Rock Brewery have nailed it with this imperial stout. You can choose to enjoy the stout straight from the brewery or alternatively grab yourself a bottle of the bourbon barrel Bearded Lady. This one has been aged for ten months in bourbon barrels and the result is exquisite. She – as the bearded lady is greatly referred to – is sumptuously smooth and is heaped with rich, chocolate notes. The aroma of chocolate invites you to take a sip and once you do; coffee, whiskey and chocolate combine to create an explosion of flavour within the mouth. The alcohol content binds with the whisky character to ooze warmth and satisfaction.

“Hoppy character”

The bitterness is easily comparable to that of a dark chocolate which enhances its moreish capability. This incredible beer is a dream for hardcore stout enthusiasts. It even has the flavour to satisfy the taste buds of none-beer drinkers. You will love showing this to friends as the bottle is intriguing and screams confidence. The wax top creates an extra barrier against oxygen pick up. But it also gives the beer a classy finish which makes it almost heartbreaking to open. Buy a bottle now and open it on Christmas day, it will be perfect with that cheeseboard.

Soft Brew 0%
I couldn’t write this review without including something for the non-drinkers out there. Produced by specialist soft drink company Alfresco, Soft Brew offers a great alternative to alcoholic beer. It utilizes zesty fruit flavours such as apple and lemon to create a delicious beer that anyone can enjoy. Though non-alcoholic, Soft Brew has all the qualities of a good beer with its hoppy character and dry finish. Have plenty of these in the fridge for a hangover-free Christmas!

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