Weekly Online Newsletter
‘Tis the season for winter warmers – beers released around Christmas time for sipping over the cold months ahead.
A few of these beers might satisfy your Christmas cookie cravings; they have hints of oatmeal and nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger, others are toasty and dark with a bit of smokiness. However, most are simply well-made ales with rich malty flavors and enough alcohol to warm you up. There are quite a few winners here – I hate to remind you and myself, but winter is just beginning, and a few of these beers might help us make it through the long winter ahead.
Samuel Adams Winter Lager
German brewers may have been on to something centuries ago when they created bold, rich bock beers for the winter. For our beer, we brewed a dark wheat bock subtly spiced with fresh ground cinnamon, ginger & orange peel for a deep, smooth flavor and malty finish that will warm you on a cold winter’s night.
5.6% ABV, 22 IBUs, 25 SRM
Summit Brewing Co. Winter Ale
One taste and it’s easy to see why the Brits call this style Winter Warmer. Nutty, roasted malt flavor with hints of coffee, caramel, cocoa and a dash of hop spice.
6.5% ABV, 40 IBUs, 54 SRM
Migrating Coconuts – Coconut Oatmeal Milk Stout
Back for another year, this super popular and super limited oatmeal milk stout is conditioned on real toasted coconuts. Dark and creamy with notes of chocolate, this stout pairs perfectly with toasted coconut for a one-of-a-kind treat for your taste buds.
5.7% – 22 IBU
Bell’s Winter White Ale
An alternative to dark and heavy winter warmers and stouts, Winter White is a stylish and refreshing Wheat Ale. Fermented with a Belgian ale yeast, this blend of barley and wheat malts yields a mixture of clove and fruity aromas, all without the use of any spices. Deliberately brewed to retain a cloudy appearance, Winter White is a beer for embracing winter.
5.0% ABV 20 IBUs
Bell’s Christmas Scotch Ale
Inspired stylistically by traditional non-peated Scotch Ales, Christmas Ale is rich and malty with notes of caramel and a warm finish. Certain to make any occasion festive, or at least a bit more bearable. Enjoy with the company of friends and family.
7.5% ABV, 35 IBUs
Lagunitas Brewing CO. Brown Shugga’
Our winter seasonal that falls into the realm of “Dangerously Slammable”, this brew is especially irresponsible. We believe this Special Ale is Something Unique. Feeding Brown Cane Sugar to otherwise Cultured Brewery Yeast is a’kin to feeding Raw Shark to your Gerbil. It is unlikely to ever occur in nature without Human Intervention. And it looks weird besides. But it has happened and now it’s too Late.
9.9% ABV 51 IBUs
Odell Isolation Ale
A funny thing happens here around summer’s end—our eyes start searching the skies for those first fall flakes. As we welcome autumn’s first snow, we celebrate the return of Isolation Ale—a sweet-caramel malty ale balanced by a subtle crisp hop finish. Whether you ski, shred, or shoe, it’ll inspire you to make first tracks.
6.1% ABV, 29 IBUs
Schell Snowstorm Red Ale
As every Midwesterner knows, no two snowstorms are ever alike and that’s what makes this brew so special. A reddish amber ale for the seasoned winter veteran who can withstand even the coldest of days. Delicious malt flavors and a crisp, hoppy finish will leave you asking one question, were you prepared for the storm?
6.5% ABV, 55 IBUs
Empyrean Winter Wisdom Hazelnut Brown Ale
Wise up. Look deep within this brown ale to breathe in caramel aromas, taste hints of roasted hazelnuts and find a smooth, creamy finish. Best paired with old friends, festive tunes and New Year’s Resolutions. Also great with beef, grilled vegetables, Southwest flavors and caramel desserts.
5.3% ABV, 18 IBUs
Weekly Online Newsletter
We are excited to announce the Sweet Release of Lagunitas Brown Shugga’. We even included a Thanksgiving recipe – BROWN SHUGGA-IFIED BAKED CANDIED YAMS, along with some great videos from our Friends at Lagunitas.
Brown Shugga’, a seasonal brew from Lagunitas, was created in 1997 as the result of an attempt to rescue a failed batch of Olde GnarlyWine Ale by adding “boatloads of brown sugar”—or so the story goes, anyway. It was a hit and they’ve made it every year since with only one exception (the moving year).
Lagunitas, then in the process of building a new brew house, realized that they didn’t have the facilities to brew both their regular beers and Brown Shugga’ (which requires more time to make than the others). In its place they released an excellent IPA that they named Lagunitas Sucks Holiday Ale, with an apology for not brewing Brown Shugga’ printed on every bottle.
Brown Shugga’ – it’s less sweet than you’d expect, smooth and biscuity-tasting with a subtle brown sugar flavor and piney hops that kick in with a bitterness that intensifies for two or three seconds before starting to fade. When the beer is cold the hop bitterness is the dominant flavor, but it mellows out as it warms up, letting the malts come through more.
BROWN SHUGGA-IFIED BAKED CANDIED YAMS
It’s that time of year again… The time to gather with friends and family to enjoy copious amounts of great food, fun stories and of course some ice cold brews. So we thought we would share one of our favorite holiday shareables that can easily be whipped up, and perfectly washed down with Brown Shugga’ Ale. How come you taste so good?!
- 5 medium-ish sized yams
- 8 tbsp salty butter
- 1 12 oz bottle o’ Lagunitas Brown Shugga’
- 1 tsp Crushed cinnamon
- ½ tsp Milled nutmeg
- ¼ tsp pulverized clove
- ¼ tsp powdered ginger
- 1 cup granulated shugga’
- ¼ cup brown shugga’ (the kind in the box, not the kind in the bottle…)
- 1 tbsp of the purest vanilla extract you can find.
- Turn the oven down from 420 F to 350 F…
- Wash your hands… Then the yams.
- Peel those yams, then slice em into ½ inch thick slices
- Gently throw the yams into a 9”x13”ish baking dish thing.
- Get a medium sized POT and put the butter in it. Get it all melty over medium heat.
- Once the butter is melty, sprinkle in the white & brown sugar (Not the beer), ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, ground ginger, and ground clove.
- Turn the stove off, then forget that you turned the stove off and check it again. Mix the ingredients, then add the ultra pure vanilla extract & all 12 ounces of the irresponsibly-sweet Brown Shugga’ (the beer this time).
- Pour that candied mixture over the yams (try to coat all the yams with the candied goodness).
- Next, turn the oven back on again… Cover the baking dish with a protective layer of foil, then bake the yams in the oven for 30 minutes. Make a foil hat to prevent alien brain control.
- Remove the yams from the oven, and baste them with MORE of the candied goodness.
- Cover the yams again, and get them BAKED for another 15-20 minutes.
- Carefully remove the yams from the oven, with both hands and let them sit for about 10 minutes before dividing them off to friends or family. Don’t forget to save some for yourself!
- Enjoy it best with a cold Brown Shugga’ Ale. Cheers!
Weekly Online Newsletter
As much as I don’t want to admit it, I feel that Old Man Winter is digging in its feet for the season. The temperatures seemed to drop significantly over the weekend and the snow seems to be sticking around for the season.
When the weather turns colder my beer drinking habits tend to lean to the darker, richer, and fuller bodied beers. My classic fall/winter favorites include Guinness Draught, Guinness Extra Stout, Samuel Adams Cream Stout and Summit Nitro Oatmeal Stout.
I always include a mix of these classics in with a few newer beers, such as Lagunitas Brown Shugga, Fargo Brewing Co. None More Black Imperial Stout, Rhombus Guys Brewing Into the Darkness Porter, Empyrean Long Route Peanut Butter Porter, Bell’s Double Cream Stout and Fulton Brewing Co. Proper Porter.
I could go on and on with my list – Do not hesitate to ask your Bergseth Bros. Sales representative for a list of darker beers that we carry year-round and seasonally. Below is a video from Craftbeer.com and a great guide I found online explaining some of the more popular styles of darker beers.
A Guide to Dark Beers
Find the right beer for fall.
Between the cold days and the prolonged nights, fall and winter generally feel like a time for dark, warming beverages—hefty red wines, stiff brown spirits, and, perhaps most of all, robust dark beers. But all dark beers don’t necessarily fit that mold. “Dark beer” is an overly broad and inexact category encompassing everything from easy-drinking German Schwarzbierto bold Belgian quads. (And because of that breadth, there are plenty of dark—or darkish—beers, like Dunkels, Roggenbiers, Eisbocks, and wee heavys, not included here.)
Some dark beers are spicy and boozy; some are sprightly and refreshing. Here’s a guide to the gamut.
Porter dates back to eighteenth-century England, where it was by and large the most popular beer, a status it maintained up until World War II when lighter ales and lagers became ubiquitous. (The name porter probably originates from its early popularity among working-class dock builders and other haulers.) The beer’s dark brown color is the result of roasted malts, which were historically unevenly malted, lending an acrid, slight smokiness to early porters. The porter category is also a hybrid style: while most are warm-fermented with ale yeasts, Baltic porters are traditionally cold-fermented with lagering strains.
Modern English Porter
Modern English porters are subdued but robust, with a dry, almost acidic finish. Like stouts, porters have morphed and transmuted into myriad sub-categories and regional styles over the centuries, but the original is a mild dark beer with roasty flavors and gentle bitterness from grassy Fuggle and Golding hops.
American porters are not quite as soft and sweet as traditional English porters; they lean toward the rich and complex end of the spectrum. They’re usually dark brown to black in color, with a strong malt flavor and aromas of coffee, chocolate, and sometimes citrusy hops. Most are around 5-6 percent ABV and medium bodied.
Baltic porter is a spinoff style of the original English porter. It took root in England around the late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-centuries, and was initially influenced by the hefty imperial stouts commonly exported to the regions around the Baltic Sea. By the nineteenth century, Baltic porters were also being brewed in the Baltic states themselves. This marked a turning point for the style, which then went from being a warm-fermented ale to a cold-fermented lager (the fermentation style favored in the Baltic region). Today, most Baltic porters are cold-lagered; strong ale-fermented porters are considered imperial porters instead.
Imperial porters inhabit a gray area somewhere between Baltic porters and imperial stouts. The term is sometimes synonymous with Baltic porter, but since most imperial porters are American-brewed, they’re usually top-fermented with ale yeast rather than cold lagered. Imperial porters are typically between 7.5 and 9.5 percent ABV and can be barrel-aged in bourbon barrels or wine casks.
Stouts are dark, robust ales who can trace their lineage directly to porters. The term “stout porter” was initially used to describe boozy, rich porters; it was eventually shortened to just “stout.” Today, the term describes a broad category of substyles that vary from frothy, sweet, and light to rich, robust, and complex.
The most popular stout in the world is Guinness, the archetypal dry stout that’s dark and silky but also quite light in body and booze—only about 4 percent by volume. Like all stouts, the black color comes from dark-roasted malts that lend bitterness and a dry, crisp finish. Dry stouts like Guinness are often poured on draft with nitrogenated gas (rather than pure carbon dioxide), which imparts a gentle sweetness and an exceedingly smooth, creamy body. One subvariety is the oyster stout, made by adding calcium-rich oyster shells during the boil. The shells’ original role was probably as a filtering mechanism (much like the “protein raft” used to clarify consommés), but it also produces a pronounced, pleasant minerality.
Milk stouts—sometimes called sweet stouts—are similar to dry stouts, but made sweet by the addition of lactose, or milk sugar. The lactose imparts creaminess and sweetness but doesn’t lend any additional fermentable sugars (saccharomyces can’t process milk sugar), keeping the ABV low and the beer relatively light and chuggable. Like dry stouts, milk stouts are sometimes served on draught with nitrogenated gas.
The addition of oats, rich in proteins and lipids, is yet another way to make a creamy-bodied stout. The style was popular in Victorian England, fell out of favor during the twentieth century, and is now somewhat common again with American brewers. In terms of sweetness and creaminess, it falls somewhere between dry and milk stouts.
American stouts are distinguished—surprise! surprise!—by a pronounced citrus hoppiness. They’re often much roastier than dry, sweet, and oatmeal stouts, and a little heftier, too, with ABVs around 6-9 percent. Some are infused with coffee and chocolate, amplifying the roasted malt’s inherent flavors.
Export stouts—also known as foreign or tropical stouts—were originally hearty, high ABV stouts developed in the British Isles for export to the Caribbean and other tropical climates (the high alcohol and robust malts made them particularly well-suited for transoceanic voyages).The original was made by Guinness, first named West India Porter and later renamed the Foreign Export Stout, which dates back to the early 1800s. Export stouts are full-bodied and robust, with a more pronounced bitterness than dry and sweet stouts, and about double the ABV (around 5.5–7.5 percent).
Imperial stout is a rich, robust, and powerful beer usually clocking in between 8 and 12 percent ABV (but can sometimes go higher, up to 15–17 percent). The style originates in late eighteenth-century England where strong (>10 percent ABV) stouts were brewed and shipped to Russia and the Baltic states. Modern iterations are sharp and bitter but with a residual sweetness that can be harmonizing at best and cloying at worst. The style is closely related to—and a direct influence on—Baltic porters.
Strong ales are made boozy not by fortification or distillation but by making an extremely sweet, sticky wort (unfermented beer). This results from a thick slurry of fermentable sugars—mostly from malted grain but sometimes from adjuncts like Belgian candi sugar—added to the brew kettle before the beer is fermented.
Old Ale / Stock Ale
Old ale is an historic British term for a vague category of dark strong ales (>6 percent ABV). They’re usually dark reddish-brown in appearance, with robust, warming flavors of malt and booze. As the name suggests, they’re aged for a prolonged time before being released. Historically, old ales were blended with younger, weaker beer, but now they’re most commonly bottled, sold, and consumed at full strength, with many American versions reaching well into the double-digit ABV range.
Barleywines are dark reddish-brown strong ales that originated in England in the mid-nineteenth century. The first commercial example to be called barleywine was Bass No. 1, a boozy, sweet ale meant to mimic the flavors of fortified wines. They’re nearly indistinguishable from old ales—some even argue the only difference is name—but barleywine is a much more popular term in America than old ale. They can age beautifully for many years, developing sherry-like aromas of toffee, dried fruit, and caramel. Most are well over 10 percent ABV.
Belgian-Style Dark Strong Ale (Trappist Quad)
This beer is exactly what its name implies: a dark strong ale made in a traditional Belgian style. Trappist breweries—a certified appellation that covers only monastic breweries within the Trappist order—usually call these quadrupels, or quads, following the nomenclature of Singels, Dubbels, and Tripels, a reference to beers of increasing strength. But the style isn’t codified, and breweries outside the appellation may also refer to them as quads or Belgian-style strong ales. Because of proprietary yeasts and idiosyncratic brewing methods, the characteristics vary from brewery to brewery, but in general, quads are rich, malty, and boozy (>10 percent ABV), with complex aromas of dark dried fruit and spices. They’re often chewy and full-bodied, though some are effervescent, even vibrant. Most are bottle-conditioned with added sugar and yeast.
American Dark Sour Ale
Though not a codified style, dark sour ales have become increasingly popular among American breweries. Most begin stout- or porter-like before undergoing some degree of wine barrel-aging, mixed fermentation (usually with brettanomyces), and bottle conditioning. The style is divergent, but overall dark sour ales are mouth-puckeringly tart, with funky aromas and rich flavors of char, dried fruit, and tart cherries.
English Dark Mild
Dark milds are traditionally low-ABV session ales. They’re typically brewed with chocolate or black malts and are gently hopped, much milder than pale ales and IPA’s. The style dates back several centuries to at least the eighteenth century. Like many other styles, they fell out of favor during the mid-twentieth century, but are experiencing something of a resurgence thanks to the craft beer boom of the last twenty years.