This is the first year in 5 or 6 years that I won’t be shopping for Christmas gifts on December 24th! I actually enjoy shopping on the last day of the shopping season (I go early and bring a list)! I don’t know what happened this year but I somehow ended up finishing early.
This won’t be a fun year for last-minute shoppers. Toronto has been covered in ice for 36 hours and getting around the city continues to be a struggle. If you’re short on time and need some ideas for fellow food-lovers, I thought I could share a quick guide to buying beer this time of year. Although these 3 bottles may not be available where you are, I’ll use each one as an example of what to look for.
If you’re not a beer geek you should know that this is one of the best times of year to buy beer. There are amazing seasonal, one-offs and imports that arrive for the Holidays! I’ll include a recommendation on how to find similar beers regardless of where you live in this article.
Winter Beard (Double Chocolate Cranberry Stout, Cellar Aged Version) by Muskoka Brewery
This is a great example of a seasonal; in this case, a winter beer. Muskoka Brewery unveiled this beer last year and it was awesome; it pours dark like a Guinness but is rich and creamy. The chocolate is 70% cacoa so it’s adds deep flavors (like coffee) as opposed to sweet.
It’s an 8% beer and will age well; which is good since the version being sold in Ontario this year is a year old! Lower-alcohol beer is best consumed fresh while beer that’s higher in alcohol can be stored and will age well (more on this topic on Thursday)! Muskoka aged a bunch of last years batch and are offering it in a special release for the Holidays ($13.95 for 750 ml at the LCBO).
To find beer like this, ask for a local seasonal beer or any one-offs that have been released for Christmas.
Abt 12 by St. Bernardus
If you have a beer lover in your life and you see a bottle of anything by St. Bernardus it’s your moral obligation to buy it for them. This is beer geek beer.
For many St. Bernardus fans, the Abt 12 is the pinnacle of their craft (ratebeer.com marks it as a perfect 100 points while BeerAdvocate.com rates it a 99/100). It’s considered a quad (aka quadrupel) and, like the Muskoka, it pours at 10%. Much like a bottle of wine, this beer would be great with dinner or slowly consumed over the course of an evening.
The Abt 12 is typically described as creamy (like a milkshake) and tastes slightly of citrus, toffee and/or dark fruit such as fig. It’s an outstanding beer ($8.85 for 750 ml at the LCBO).
To find a beer like this, ask for any beer by St. Bernardus or, in it’s absence, ask for any Trappist, tripel, or quad-style beers.
Nordic Pale Ale by Kissmeyer (and Beau’s as part of their B-Side label)
This is a freak of a beer (and, in the case of craft beer, that’s a good thing). Beau’s Brewery is a family-run craft brewery in Ontario who are known for fantastic beer and even better packaging. They are also known for innovation and thinking out-side-the-case when it comes to brewing.
Beau’s launched a second beer brand called B-Side Brewing in June. The idea was simple: they would team up with craft breweries from around the world and collaborate to brew versions of their beer here.
The Nordic Pale Ale by Kissmeyer is their first wide release. The original product is made by in Denmark and the b-side version includes rose-hips and cranberries (as a tribute to the flavors of the North). It’s 5.6% ($4.85 for 600 ml at the LCBO).
To find a beer like this, ask for any special collaboration beer.
What would you hope to find under the Christmas tree?