Winter beer advice below from the ever SOBA Neil from Real Beer (and some dark beer advice here from PC).
Just as it makes sense for a café menu to change from light summer salads and rolls to hearty soups and stews when the weather turns cold, it is sensible for brewers to produce richer, darker warming beers when the temperature drops.
Indeed, winter beers, or “winter warmers” as they are sometimes known, are usually dark, strong and often spicy and are a well established part of brewing.
Their growing popularity in New Zealand sees this edition of Beer O’Clock look at the winter offerings from three big brewers.
The first out was the Speight’s Fireside Ale. It is not being bottled, but it is now available on tap at Speight’s Ale House’s all around the nation. It is described as a limited release Strong Winter Warmer (5.5% alcohol by volume).
It does not seem to exist on the Speight’s website at all. I found the (limited) information above on the website for the Bealey’s Ale House in Christchurch. Personally, I came across this beer quite by accident at my local Speight’s Ale House on the mean streets of Thorndon, Wellington.
I saw the sign outside proclaiming “Fireside Ale” and so I popped in an asked what kind of beer it was. The staff member looked delightfully blank, paused and said “probably easiest if you just tasted it” and poured me a free sample. Outstanding!
Currently pouring in the 19 Monteith’s concept bars and available in bottles from 2 July, Monteith’s Doppelbock Winter Ale is a retooled version of their popular 2003 Doppelbock specialty release. Now 6%, Monteith’s are predicting strong sales.
The Doppelbock is a six malt brew using a blend of five dark malts (Munich, Vienna, Crystal, Amber and Chocolate) together with Pilsner malt. Monteith’s say it is moderately hopped with local varieties of the German Hallertauer hop and I certainly think it is encouraging to see a big brewery talking about ingredients rather than brand images.
Next off the rank is Mac’s limited release Log Burner Winter Ale, launching next week at a “centrally heated” launch party. I’m expecting this beer will be available at Mac’s bars round the nation but is unlikely to appear in bottles any time soon. I’m looking forward to trying it.
All three beers give you a perfect reason to head out to a cozy pub and settle in with a good winter warmer.