A Drink For Every Season
It seems most people want everything nice and neat, categorized and to make sense. Foods, spirits, and wines were meant to be consumed at specific times throughout the year, with a particular food pairing, and at a certain temperature. We certainly have done our best to lay down the ground rules when it comes to enjoying alcoholic beverages. “Don’t have white wine with a steak,” and “It’s frowned upon to drink red wine in the summer.” We also have rules when it comes to spirits: gin is a “summer” spirit while bourbons, scotches and whiskey are “winter” spirits.
The Art of Beer
Then there is craft beer. Brewing beer has become an art form. A lot of work goes into developing the craft beer that flows through my taps. A lot of beer you love has come about through trial and error. Just as the rules apply to wine and spirits, it seems there is a style of beer that pairs brilliantly with every occasion.. and is why craft beer is the true nectar of the gods… I mean, in my humble opinion. If you only drink Yuengling Lager, love wheat beers or Hefeweizens they aren’t brewed much in the colder months. Craft breweries won’t tell you to take their Hefeweizen and nuke it for a few minutes so it’s more enjoyable to drink it in the winter. Nor will any craft beer lover tell you to enjoy your milk stout with some ice cubes in August. Let’s see if I can’t get you lager lovers to try something new this winter. Here are three beer styles that adjust to the changing of the seasons and yet, still give you everything you want from your desired style.. and a bit more.
Dunkelweizen/Weizenbock: similar to a Hefeweizen, these southern Germany wheat beers are brewed as darker versions (Dunkel means “dark”) with deliciously complex malts and a low balancing bitterness. Most are brown and murky (from the yeast). The usual clove and fruity (banana) characters will be present if not stronger; some may even taste like banana bread. Weizenbocks are typically stronger in alcohol and have a dark fruity sweetness to them. The best examples of this style are from Schneider & Sohns, Weihenstephaner, and Erdinger but in true Jersey Boy form. I would stay local and drink Ramstein Winter Wheat from High Point Brewing in Butler, NJ. So, keep that light, crisp “Heffe” out of the microwave and grab one of these bad boys.
The Black IPA
Of course I have to include my new favorite this year, the Black IPA. When it comes down to it, I am a total hop head. IPAs were my least desirable style of beer “in the beginning”. However, since I get to drink a shit ton of different beer styles and variations every day, I have fallen in love with the IPA. Quite simply, no other style can satisfy my palate at this point. Enough of me and back to the beer. Ok… One more thing about me. I don’t like stouts, porters, etc. Black IPA’s have changed that. It is no longer the citrus thirst quencher or sweet, malty DBL that puts me to bed after two drafts. While they typically lack the roasted flavor and body of a strong stout and has more hop flavor than a strong porter, Black IPA’s have a distinct toasty dark malt character to them. When it comes to Black IPA’s, I will give you 3 to choose from that are pretty easy to track down. Otter Creek Black IPA, Carton Epitome and the one and only Maine Weez.
My dad drinks Yuengling…well he used to. I’ve changed that. He has taken a liking to some heavier beers like Pale Ales and English Ales. Then I gave him a Doppelbock (‘Bock’ means lager and ‘dopple’ means double so that makes it easy)… A Double lager. Double in flavor and higher in alcohol. They range in color from dark amber to nearly black, and darker versions often have slight chocolate or roasted characters to them. The best ones come from Germany, such as Ayinger Celebrator and Spaten Optimator, but there are some great ones in the states. My go-to’s would be Troegs Troegenator and Cigar City’s Amplitude.
So when you are scrambling for last minute gifts or have to bring beer to the in-laws, don’t shy from your favorites. You don’t have to be so quick to jump on the Holiday Ale or Winter Warmer bandwagon! Stick to what you know and what you love, because the brewers of the world want you to.