12 types of comforting beers to tame the cold
February 11th, 2023
Greetings to all and happy February. With a thousand thoughts on this “Alcohol Free February” that is buzzing around me, I decided to do some research on warm and comforting beer suggestions! These will sit well on your tables, right next to the wood stove, if you are lucky enough to have one. Not that I wanted to be bold here; it is, in fact, very relevant, on a regular basis, to take stock of one’s own alcohol consumption. I leave this personal task to each one of you to do, in your soul and conscience.
For my part, I have made a different choice this year, to savor the present moment, to taste in the light of day each beer that crosses my path, in moderation. So share wonderful moments and heart warming beers with those you love! Get closer to others! And remember that drinking a good microbrewery beer is a social event!
Comforting beers, in a flash
First of all, the idea of a Scotch ale crosses my mind. It has caramel notes, is soft on the tongue and sweet. It’s a round beer that comes to your mouth with a warmth of alcohol. Syrupy, even, it can have notes of candied fruit, candy cane, Cola, cookie, honey, taffy, toffee. It is a beer of choice to face the bitter winter, just like barley wines or American barley wines, which are even stronger.
Then, my senses go to the Belgian type beers, which can come to us in different forms, including dubbel, triple Belgian, quadrupel, etc. These are beers whose body is very heavy. These are beers whose fullness seduces in cold weather. It’s heavy stuff. Its main characteristics, abbreviated here of course, are spicy and fruity esters, often enhanced with coriander seeds. I personally like that little scent of clove that comes up sometimes, at the heart of the beer’s aromas.
I’m also thirsty, in February, for those beautiful, majestic beers that have been aged in barrels. Sometimes those barrels are maple, oak, etc., and sometimes they have held spirits like brandy, bourbon, scotch, whiskey, among others. I also like the complexity that comes from aging beers in barrels that have previously contained wine. This is especially pleasing when aging in pinot noir, burgundy, port, Sauterne barrels! Alcoholic notes and warmth will be present after this stay. Aging is a beautiful thing!
As far as comfort is concerned, my heart also often leans towards the Patisserie Stouts. They offer a superb roasted bitterness, a nice roundness and … sugar. Who doesn’t love a good dessert? Various additives can entertain our taste buds here, including the addition of lactose, molasses, honey, maple syrup, candy sugar and the work on the beer and its malts can reveal in some cases notes of mocha, cocoa, milk chocolate or dark chocolate, fudge, waffle, brioche, espresso, among others! Do you like thrills? Opt for a Stout in all its greatness and prefer its Imperial version, even more complex and strong.
Choosing between all the possible variations of cozy beers was much more difficult than doing this research and writing. I would be terribly ungrateful if I did not at least mention, in passing, the beautiful well-malted beers that transport us to roasting, toasted bread and candied fruits! I also like, as a comforting beer, a less heavy beer that puts “winter” fruits in the forefront, such as dates, plums, black currants, figs or black cherries. Also, other warm ideas: Rauchbier or smoked beer, spicy Christmas beers, a Marzën with roasted cereals and spicy notes, a Vienna Lager with caramel notes, the earthy side of the Extra Special Bitter, the density of an Eisbock whose concentration has densified the flavours and the warmth, and why not a Schwarzbier, a beautiful black lager! Have fun, explore these styles, don’t hesitate to ask for advice in your local microbrewery; there is a whole comforting world to discover!
By Paule Gosselin