Well winter is certainly here! The days are getting shorter and shorter, and the nights colder and colder. As I write this, I am shivering in my house as my boiler has decided to go. *Grr* Ah well, I have the perfect excuse to try some lovely winter warmers to get me through this cold season!
Each year Irish craft breweries release some truly amazing and unique seasonal beers perfect for these long, dark, cold days. There are loads of fantastic options with a vast array of flavour profiles, but generally these beers are darker, maltier, bolder, and increasingly complex. Spiced brews are also present.
While more are released each and every week, I have made a list of four lovely craft beers I have managed to get my hands on thus far.
Rascals Brewing Company: Milkshake Stout
€3.25 – Available at Martin’s Off-License
Full disclosure: I love coconut, so I was really excited to see this new release from Rascals. Brewed with cocoa nibs from the Proper Chocolate Company, the aforementioned coconut, as well as sugar and lactose, I was very happy with this beer.
Lovely notes of coconut mingle with sweet, rich chocolate giving it a smooth and creamy mouthfeel; perfect for slow sipping after dinner on cold winter nights.
DOT Brew: Barrel Aged Cab Sauv. Grain Rye
€5.99 – Available at Martin’s Off-License
I was very intrigued when I came across this beer from DOT. Using three different kinds of rye, they aged this ale in former Irish Single Grain Whiskey/Ex Napa valley Cabernet Sauvignon Casks for over 12 months. They describe it as ‘Bold and Complex’ with, among other things, marzipan notes, fig, and a sherry finish with ‘light spiced chocolate’.
I was totally was drawn in with quite high hopes. I was not disappointed. This is an amazingly complex beer that should absolutely be savoured, and at 9.6% ABV it really lends itself to cold weather sipping. I will definitely be picking up a few more of these.
White Gypsy Brewery: Yule Ól
€4.50 – Available at Martin’s Off- License
I always look forward to trying White Gypsy’s annual seasonal release, the Yule Ól. My thesis was in Viking burial so the reference to the brewing of Yule Ól, or Christmas beer – a centuries long Scandinavian tradition, makes me quite happy and has me coming back to this brew year after year.
This winter warmer has lovely notes of toffee with dark dried fruits and hints of berry. An oak-aged strong ale with English and Slovenian hops, the bottle says to ‘enjoy by the fire’ and this is certainly the case!
James Brown Brews and Reel Deel Brewery Collaboration: Orange and Juniper IPA
€3.49 – Available at Martin’s Off License
Having recently discovered a love for gin (yes, I know, me and everyone else) I was sold by the reference to gin (‘Gin, Gin’) on the side of the bottle. After having one of the heavy meals ubiquitous this time of year, sometimes something a wee bit lighter at the end of the night, or even to enjoy with the meal, might also be desirable.
The juniper and orange marry with the grapefruit and tropical notes from the hops and make for an all-around lovely and refreshing beer. Like I said, this was perfect with an indulgent ‘friendsgiving’ meal!
That is my list of a few seasonal brews I have enjoyed so far – what are you drinking this December?
A historian by trade, Christina founded the Ladies Craft Beer Society of Ireland to have some semblance of a life outside of her Ph.D. An academic at heart, she then went on to turn her love of craft beer into something a bit more formal and has become a BJCP (Beer Judge Certification Program) Beer Judge.
With this background, she is devoted to educating the consumer on the history of beer styles and brewing, as well as what makes up the perfect pint.