Also available in Monday Magazine, originally posted on November 26th, 2020.
While the signs are suggesting that this holiday season will be spent mostly around home, that doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy some local offerings with your safe six that will keep you warm in both temperature and camaraderie. As the weather cools, the stronger beers come out and make for a delightful combination with the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of the season.
Imperial ales are just as they sound: Big, powerful, and best shared with others. As a celebration of their fourth anniversary, Sooke Oceanside Brewery has released their vibrant blue wax-dipped Graveyard of the Pacific Imperial Red Ale. This big, malty ale with well-placed hop bitterness is a great addition to sweet, caramelly desserts like a sticky toffee pudding, or even alongside a nicely braised roast, but it is definitely one to try this season as a celebration of great things coming together.
Another classic style around this time of year is Barley Wines. These beers have a warming mouthfeel, tending to be around 9% ABV and higher, are quite malt-forward, but can then vary from the British style with subtle hop presence to the more hop-forward American style.
Lighthouse Brewing has taken that style and turned the dial up to 11 for this year’s Depth Charge. An Oak Aged Tequila Barleywine, their strongest beer brewed at 10.5% ABV, has notes of caramel, dark fruit, and vanilla, and is a perfect warming sipper next to the fire, whether it’s real or playing on your tv on a loop.
Twa Dogs Brewery has also released their version as well, coming in at 11.77% ABV, and offers a little more notes of chocolate, honey, and toffee, showcasing the more caramelized notes of the style, so it might be fun to grab both and compare them side-by-side.
If big, strong, malty beers aren’t your preference, there are other new options out there as well, like Hoyne Brewing’s Biergarten Kolsch style ale. This classic style, originating from the Cologne region of Germany is a lagered ale, meaning cold fermented and stored, giving the nice crispness of a lager, with a little more character. Hoyne’s version contains German malt, hops, and yeast, for an authentic result.
As we reach the end of 2020, I want to acknowledge how strange a year this has been, and wish you all a safe, healthy, and happy holiday season. Whatever you enjoy, do it responsibly, and continue supporting local into 2021 and beyond.