Frosty and Flavourful
Nothing beats an ice cold, light brew on hot summer days. But when the temperature drops, it’s time to shift your palate into a full-bodied, complex experience—winter beers that not only go down smoothly, but awaken your taste buds and warm your soul, too. Making it through a Canadian winter in one piece requires lots of layering, staying cozy, and treating yourself wherever possible.
Complement your comfort food
Shifting your palate to winter-worthy brews can easily start with Granville Island Brewery’s Lions Winter Ale. And it seems like the rest of Canada has the same idea, as the surging popularity of this Vancouver-based craft brewer will attest. The brewery’s #itsgoodtobehere hashtag gets a lot of play this time of year, owing to the eastward surge of its winter wonder. If Twitter is any indication, Canada loves this nutty and sweet seasonal all the way to Newfoundland, where it meets a surprising match: the brewery swears Winter Ale’s perfect food pairing is clam chowder and bacon.
Indulge in caramel
An all-season favourite that seems to excel when sore ski legs need soothing or the wind is howling is Ricards Red. This Canadian icon pours a clear dark amber and the distinctive malty aroma swirls with caramel and grain. Wonderful flavours of malt with some caramel make this one of Canada’s most popular medium-body go-tos. Another beer with hints of caramel and malt tones is the Okanagan Spring’s Cloudy Amber. Its deep amber colour and cloudy pour set up a floral, hoppy hit, followed by caramel malt and ending with a well-balanced, satisfying brew. A perennial staple that holds up exceptionally when the snow is flying is Sleeman’s Honey Brown. The rich copper lager delivers full-bodied satisfaction punctuated with a touch of natural honey and a slightly sweet finish. Winter is the muse here, with clover honey notes and aromas of toasted grain and caramel.
Fortify yourself against the cold
Winter wouldn’t be winter without Guinness Draft. This dry Irish stout is a full-body icon with caramel aromas and distinct chocolate bitter noticeable from the first sip. It even contains antioxidants so you can stay tough in any snowstorm. The famous creamy head reminds fans of pillowy summits near and far, just waiting to be climbed, descended and, in this case, scattered all over your upper lip.
Warm up after wintry fun
Spicy and bold flavours will help you thaw out after a day spent in the great outdoors. Unibroue’s Fin du Monde is a French Canadian beauty that’s synonymous with the Great White North. This Blonde Strong Ale is at once malty, spicy and slightly tart—a Canuck riff on the Belgian Tripel that often surpasses the homeland’s best. Speaking of worthy Belgian riffs, Goose Island Sofie is so true to form that it satisfies both Champagne drinkers and Belgian Saison fans. Fermented with wild yeasts and orange peel and aged to perfection in wine barrels, the sip is tart, dry and sparkling with soft spicy white pepper notes. Sister brew Goose Island Matilda is a slightly turned-down hazy golden pour with a yeasty, floral aroma with a mouth-pleasing balance, medium body with cloves and spices that linger after the last sip.
Another year-rounder that soars in frosty climes is Scotland’s bourbon barrel-aged Innis & Gun Oak Aged. Arriving in Canada a few short years ago, its distinct flavour profile of biscuity malt and vanilla mixing within a creamy, mellow character has won demanding local beer aficionados faster than you can say “William Wallace.”
What's the best comfort food and craft beer combo? Let us know in the comments below!
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