Friday, November 4, 2011

Welcoming Winter... with Beer!

Wow, winter this year is really using some guerrilla tactics. I can't remember a time when we've had a snowstorm before Halloween, so either I have a terrible memory (likely) or this is some el nino with the squiggly "i" stuff. For now we're back to peaceful fall, but before I know it we'll be under 3 feet of snow until it turns to 6 inches of ice, dirty black rocks, and leftover salt in June. It's time to get ready for winter!

How you know winter is coming:
  • You start craving turkey, the least flavorful and most sandpaper-like of meats
  • You finally hang up the flip-flops (unless you're a 15-20 year old girl or 75-95 year old man)
  • You're ten minutes later to work because you have to scape frost off your car with a tool that barely works
  • You start seeing tree shaped Reeses Peanut Butter Cups at the register instead of pumpkin or turkey shaped ones (before the heart shaped ones, or cadbury eggs)
  • You can't find any pumpkin ale to review, but there's lots of winter lager
Since it seems a little too early to review a Christmas Ale (of which there are tons available right now) I was looking for something a little more seasonally appropriate. Using the register candy as my guide was no help since liquor stores don't generally carry Reeses (although they are one of the only places to carry pork rinds, go figure.) I toured the store and realized that after writing this blog with Gene for a couple years I've reviewed most of my favorite all-year beers. After giving up in the normal fridge, I hit the Christmas section and dodged a bullet. They had the perfect beer to review for this time of the year...

Beereview: Samuel Smith's Winter Welcome Ale

I've always had a soft spot for Sam Smith's Oatmeal Stout and they are one of the first breweries to have a widely available organic lager. Sam Smith's also tend to not be too expensive even with all the fancy gold foil around the top.

The bottle claims that this ale is fermented in "stone Yorkshire squares" and contains Fuggle and Golding hops. If that's not some Harry Potter stuff, I don't know what is. It makes sense that Hogwarts would have a brewery for something other than butter beer. Seriously though, Fuggle Hops? What the heck is a Yorkshire square? If you know, let me know in the comments.

This ale is an unclouded rich amber color with a foamy head that decreases to about 1/8" and stays there. The aroma is malty with hints of caramel and peach or apricot. It's a nice fresh clean smell with none of the beer mustiness from lower quality brews.

The initial taste is a burst of sweet followed by dryness and slight bitterness. It's almost like the flavor a Belgian Abbey Ale or dry champagne but much more mellow.

Overall this beer is very refreshing, and at 6% ABV is well suited to enjoying around a fire on a cold winter evening. It's much less heavy than a spiced winter ale. I can definitely recommend this beer!

Have you tried Sam Smith's Winter Welcome? Do you have a Yorkshire square in your garage? Let me know in the comments below!

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