‘Tis the season to celebrate and Canada’s booming craft beer scene is embracing the holiday spirit with some must try seasonal beers. Good thing for Ontarians, many of these options are easily available to us. Cheers to the Craft Beers of Christmas!
Vancouver’s Granville Island Brewery brings us Christmas joy once again with their Lions Winter Ale. A silver medal winner at the 2011 World Beer Championship, it has become a winter favourite. This robust beer and complex beer has strong tasting notes of cocoa and vanilla. Complimented by notes of nuttiness and bready malts, this is one of the best winter ales this country has to offer.
What’s more Canadian than a butter tart” Maybe poutine, but this Canadian dessert has been transformed into a beer. Maple Butter Tart Ale was the winner of the Griffin Session Muskoka Beer Festival this summer. Created at Sawdust City Brewing in conjunction with the city of Midland and Griffin Events Co., this beer has tasting notes of crust, caramel, maple, and rich bready malt. Not overly sweet, this is the perfect beer for a Canadian with a bit of a sweet tooth.
Where to Get It: LCBO
Bellwoods Brewery releases one of its most anticipated winter favorites (besides Bring Out Your Dead of course). Hellwoods is a Russian Imperial Stout. Complex tasting notes of burnt malts, burnt chocolate, earth, espresso, fruit, and vanilla balance out the bitterness of the hops. This is a great full-bodied beer with very low carbonation; it’ll definitely be in the running for your new favourite imperial stout.
Where to Get It: Bellwoods Brewery’s Bottle Shop
This beer is another noteworthy seasonal entry from Lake of Bays Brewing Company. The Old North Mocha Porter is made from locally roasted coffee; brewed in collaboration with Diesel House Coffee Roasters. Tasting notes like roasted dark malts, coffee, dark chocolate, dark fruit, and nutty vanilla, create a rich and smooth porter. It also has a moderate bitterness. A great beer with a lot of winter warming flavor.
Where to Get It: LCBO
Beau’s has several must have seasonal beers on their roster this year. With choices like Farm Table: 80 Shilling, Black Forest I.P.A, and New Lang Syne, you’re bound to find the perfect beer for this holiday season. New Lang Syne is a Belgian Tripel aged in white wine barrels to add a bit of a sweeter taste. The bottle is also conditioned effervescently so you can pop it like a sparkling wine or champagne. That’s right, I think it’s time to reconsider having this beer to ring in the New Year.
It’s difficult to pick just one seasonal beer from Muskoka Brewery. Options like Winter Beard and Winterweiss are sure to keep you warm this winter. Winterweiss is a Dunkelweizen with tasting notes of banana, clove, and slight smoked wood. It finishes with the taste of bready malts. This is an easy drinking, flavorful beer for a cold night out with your friends.
Located in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Niagara Oast House Brewers is one of the most notable craft breweries springing up in a previously wine-centric area. Biere du Noel is newest addition to their Farmhouse Ale Collection. This beer has tasting notes of molasses, nutmeg, cinnamon, clove, dark chocolate, and figs. It’s flavourful but doesn’t feel heavy. With slight toasted notes, this is a limited edition beer you have to try.
Where to Get It: Niagara Oast House Brewery
Kingston’s Stone City Ales brings back Tannenbomb Imperial Wit. This is a true holiday beer; it’s brewed with Spruce and Cranberry. Along with the taste of wheat, the tasting notes of spruce and cranberry work like Ying and Yang; the cranberries add a slight tardiness while the spruce adds some bitterness. Definitely worth the trip to Kingston.
Where to Get It: Stone City Ales Bottle Shop
Developed by an all-woman’s brewing team as part of their ‘Queen of Craft’ series, Wellington Brewery’s 2015: A Spice Odyssey is for the stout and chai latte lover in all of us. This is a Chai Latte Stout with tasting notes of cardamom, ginger, cloves, and cinnamon with a light bitterness. $1 from each bottle goes to support Guelph-Wellington Women In Crisis. Give back this season and enjoy a rich beer.
Where to Get It: LCBO and Wellington Brewery’s Retail Store
If you find yourself in Sarnia, Ontario, head over to Refined Fool Brewing Co. and try their Manger Danger Winter Warmer. It has a malt-forward taste with a good amount of spiciness and a great hop finish. Other tasting notes include dried plum, fig, cloves, orange, brown sugar, and chicory. Full of flavor, this will keep you warm on a cold, winter night.
Where to Get It: Refined Fool Brewing Company’s Taproom & Retail Store
Oakville’s Black Oak Brewing Company brings back Nutcracker Porter. This is an ideal holiday porter because of its warm and tasty. This beer pours a dark chestnut with tasting notes of dark chocolate, roasted coffee, vanilla, roasted malts, all spice, and a hint of cinnamon. With full-bodied flavor, it’s a nice spicy and toasty porter for a winter day.
The Collingwood Brewery’s Winter Ale is perfect for an après-ski. Created in the style of a Barrel Aged Old Ale, this is a strong beer with tasting notes of dark fruit, dark chocolate, malts, earth, and sherry. There is a good amount of complexity and not too much sweetness. In addition, it’s not overwhelmingly heavy. It’s time to book a trip to this brewery and the slopes.
Where to Get It: The Collingwood Brewery Retail Shop