Winter holidays consist of rich, flavorful foods complimented by equally rich, spiced beverages. Seasonal winter beers possess some of these same qualities, and are a great option for your beer brewing kit when you are craving a thicker, darker beer to warm you up on a cold, snowy night.
Seasonal winter beers can actually be much more unique than their autumn, spring, and summer counterparts. While the three other seasons typically have unwritten rules about brewing styles, winter beers have a wider umbrella for ingredients and spices, allowing you to experiment freely.
Think of it as a grab bag of Halloween candy, except instead of candy there is beer, and you are the master of your brewing destiny. Making one of these winter beers in your beer brewing kit is guaranteed to warm your heart as much as the fireplace warms your home.
Winter Beer Types
The best part of the winter beer season lies in the wide range of spice and brewing options available, and with no other beer is that more apparent than with the winter ale. A winter ale usually takes on the general properties of a standard pale ale (medium bodied, rich amber color), but with the added benefit of a few seasonal spices and a higher alcohol content.
Many winter ales contain hints of various fruits topped off with popular spices such as cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, cardamom, ginger root, sweet gale, allspice, and vanilla.
Porters are dark, medium- to full-bodied beers ideal for savoring on a cold winter evening, and can be just as versatile to make in your beer brewing kit as winter ales. Traditionally made with dark roasted malts, porters are often enriched by the inclusion of various holiday-oriented flavors such as pumpkin, honey, vanilla, chocolate, bourbon, and/or various fruits like raspberries or cherries.
Porters were extremely popular in 1700s Ireland and Britain, and while they are not as popular today as they once were, many U.S. microbrewers and home brewers have realized the uniqueness of various porter recipes around the holiday season. With so many easy-to-find ingredients for specialty porters, the next batch from your beer brewing kit could very well be a staple of winters to come.
Derived from porters and formerly called porter stouts, stout beers are also made with dark roasted malts and carry a medium- to full-bodied texture and flavor. Stouts tend to be a bit stronger in natural flavor and body, which is perfect for those relaxing nights just listening to the fireplace crackle and pop.
The flavors and types of stouts range from coffee stouts to chocolate stouts to oatmeal stouts. Each style can easily be made by the home brewer with ingredients similar to those used when making porters, giving you the perfect excuse to try your hand at a similar but different type of winter beer
By brewing batches of winter ales, porters, and stouts in your beer making kit, you are guaranteed to expand your beer making abilities. Experiment with any combination you think would taste good, because after all, you are the brew master of your own micro-brewery.