As I sit here looking out of the window I see snow. Full blown snow pelting the ground and it’s only September 15th! I could grumble about the unpredictable (and increasingly so) weather patterns that don’t work in my favour or I can turn to towards big, bold, strong beers to not only challenge my palate, but distract me from windows. Here are 3 categories of strong beers to help one get through premature winter blues.
Imperial Stouts – also called Russian Imperial stouts, because the English use to brew these super strong (10-12%) beers to be shipped to Russia. High alcohol and hopping rates (though you won’t taste them due to malt character) preserved the barreled beer during shipment. Expect baker’s chocolate, roasted coffee beans, smooth espresso, and dark plum notes for aroma and flavor. These are rich, complex, and intense beers meant to be drank by a fireplace if possible. Also can go well with an equally rich desert like chocolate cheesecake. Old Rasputin is a fantastic version of an Imperial stout that you’ll find in most independent liquor stores.
Wee Heavy – The strongest of the Scottish beer styles, a wee heavy can range from 6.5-10% ABV. Aroma and flavors range from caramel, toffee candy, light smoke, toasted bread, nuts, and dried fruit. Orkney Skull Splitter is classic version of this beer that we carry in store and at $5.25 a 330 ml bottle, this 8.5% ABV is a steal of a deal on a cold day!
Belgian Dark Strong – The strongest of the trappist/abbey series (trappist beers are ones brewed in a monastery with a legit monk overseeing brewery production whereas abbey ales are simply beers produced in a normal brewery using the monastic approach for marketing only). The dark strong can have fruit flavors and aromas ranging from raisins, prunes, plums, dried cherry, and figs. Also present in the aroma and flavor will be spices ranging from cloves, vanilla, nutmeg, and floral notes. Though the beer is dark, do not expect any roasted coffee notes you might get from an imperial stout! St Bernardus Abt 12 is a fantastic abbey version and Chimay Blue cap is a good trappist version of the Belgian dark strong style carried in our store.