A winter warmer brew to me is a strong and dark brew with bold coffee and cocoa notes. These brews are meant to be sipped and savoured and present beautifully in a snifter, “Bolleke’ Goblet or even just a wine glass. I was fortunate over these past holidays to try some delicious craft winter warmers from breweries in Ontario.
My 2012 holidays kicked off in Ontario where I had the opportunity to try some new brews for the very first time, and visit some local breweries that absolutely blew me away with their latest creations! After a busy week of holiday parties in Calgary and a long day of traveling from YYC to YYZ I was in search for a rich brew to sit down and relax with. I discovered a seasonal brew, Winter Beard by Muskoka brewery. This limited edition strong stout (8.0%) is full of chocolate and cranberry notes from real local cranberries and dark chocolate, and warms you like a thick a blanket. Curl up and share this one, but be sure to serve cool and not cold to truly appreciate all the lovely warming notes it has to offer.
My next liquid discoveries over the holidays were both from breweries based in Windsor, Ontario. Walkerville Brewery, a microbrewery in the distillery district of Olde Walkerville has a history dating back to the late 1800’s. After new ownership in 2012, and the brewery’s rebranding and relaunch in the summer of 2012, the development of some new creations have caught the taste buds of many locals, and former locals like myself. The brewery announced the launch of a new series of seasonal beers packaged in growlers, and the very first brew to be released in the new packaging was a Roasted Chestnut Brown Ale, which was perfect for the holidays. I visited the brewery and was able to meet co-owner, Chris Ryan who expressed how proud he was about the beer and that the featured artwork on the label was done by Windsor artist Marc Lacourciere. The nuttiness from real roasted chestnuts really came through as it warmed up slightly to room temperature. This malty and rich brew was perfect for the holiday occasion with subtle spice notes. After trying this one for the first time, I cannot wait until their next limited creation is released!
Onto my next discovery, and what better to pair with a glass of craft beer than a homemade burger! Burger joint, Motor Burgers & nano brewery Motor Craft Ales in Windsor, Ontario was serving up their seasonal Santa Sleigh Candy Cane Porter which I absolutely loved and paired wonderfully with their Lamb-orghini burger. The brew was decadent with generous cocoa notes and just a smidge of mint in the finish. I appreciated their added touch of hooking a mini candy cane on the edge of the glass. Partner of Motor Burger & Motor Craft Ales, Gino Gesuale took me into their very small brewing area of the restaurant where I was amazed to see and hear how dedicated and passionate they are about crafting some unique and authentic craft brews. Gino expressed his love for craft beer and how important using real ingredients is in the brewing process is. Windsor, Ontario seems to have caught onto the craft beer movement and with recent breaking news of a beer festival to take place in October, 2013, I do believe that this city is just getting warmed up!
I was impressed by the craft beer scene during my trip back home to Ontario, and to finally come across heavier and rich winter warmers, rather than the light bubbly lagers that seemed to be most prevalent in the province. No cold winter is quite complete without these dark craft ales, and I look forward to visiting these breweries in the summer to see what else they have in store!