With cold winds blowing through bare trees, rosey red cheeks peeking out from billowing scarves and hats, it’s safe to say winter is well and truly here. During these brisk days when the sky seemingly begins growing dim almost as soon as it has finished lightening, the usual pale ales, pilsners and lagers do not seem to satisfy the same way they usually do when the weather is fairer. Thankfully there are other options which can get you excited about the winter months and maybe even leave you longing for their return.
Traditionally considered as styles for an older generation or a quirky foreign choice, porters and stouts have seen a change in attitudes over the years as people have discovered how varied these styles can be. The nature of these beers matches them perfectly to the cooler months. Best served around room temperature or slightly under, this allows for the roasted malt characters of the beer to be fully released and enables the drinker to experience the full flavour as the brewer intended. A fuller body and mouth feel as well as a higher alcohol content are often a signature of these styles due to the increased malt presence and as such lend themselves to a slower pace of drinking, perfect for those cold winter evenings.
Sometimes considered a gateway beer to the darker heavier stout, porters offer a great option for those looking to broaden their horizons on the dark side of beer.The porter of today is very different to what was called a porter a hundred and fifty or so years ago. Back then there was little distinction between porter and stout styles. As time progressed however and malting practices changed the two styles drew further apart to more closely resemble what we are familiar with today. Lighter in body to a stout and without the heavier dark roasted flavours, a porter offers less in the way of challenging flavours that can put off those new to dark styles while offering enough of a challenge to bring you back for more.
A good place to start:
Holgate Brewhouse – Temptress – ABV: 6.0 IBU: 31
Blackman’s Brewery – Arthur Smoked Porter – ABV: 6.3 IBU 40
Wolf of the Willows – Johnny Smoke Porter – ABV: 5.2
A bigger heavier more robust style than porters, the main thought often brought to mind when stouts are mentioned is that of guinness however, there is far more to this style than that. The flavours of stouts showcase rich dark roasted malts on a grand scale with little to no hop presence. It is important that this style of beer is enjoyed slowly, allowing the flavours and aromas to open up with each considered mouthful. For those in search of even bigger flavours then an imperial stout delivers with room to spare. Basically a stout with the volume turned right up in all areas, it’s best to delve into these when more confident.
A good place to start:
Rein Bier – Extra Stout – ABV: 6.0 IBU: 60
Nail Brewing – Nail Stout – ABV: 6.0 IBU: 32
Moon Dog – Black Lung V – ABV: 8.8 IBU: 45