It’s that time of year again. Days are getting shorter and chillier, nights are getting darker, and Seasonal Affective Disorder is settling into our bones like Irish damp. Fortunately our ancestors were prepared for this time of year and made festivals of light, love and sharing – Christmas and advent among them. Which means it’s also time for something I get excited for every year – my annual beer advent calendar!
Living in Toronto, I have the pleasure of experiencing all four seasons and, being January, we’re properly into winter now.
Lots of people complain about winter and I wonder if they’re just looking at it wrong. Yes, it’s cold and slushy and sometimes gross outside. Some days the wind is so cold and biting I can barely take a breath! But wearing layer upon layer and braving the cold just makes coming in to a warm home all the sweeter. Sure, winter makes you work for it, but it’s worth it in the end.
And there are lots of great things about braving the season too. The cold, grey days and even colder nights offer a great opportunity to cozy up on the couch with a soft throw and a hearty beer. Unlike summer, when crisp lagers and wheat beers hit the spot, in winter I look forward to heavier fare – browns, darks, stouts and porters.
Here are some beers I look forward to having this winter. Why don’t we try them together?
This beer is technically available year-round, but despite being a Scotch Ale (a beer not necessarily associated with colder weather) the talk of toastiness and caramel in the description make me think winter is it’s ideally-paired season. Interestingly, reviews of it on Untappd vary wildly, so I think I’ll reserve final judgement until after I have the chance to taste it. I’m still looking forward to giving it a go though.
Have you had this one before? I’d love to know your thoughts!
Keen home viewers might recognize this as the first beer from my advent calendar. December 1st was the first time I had the pleasure of enjoying this beer (a Munich-style Dunkel, to be specific), and enjoyed it so much that I’ve made a point to keep an eye out for it on tap over the last month. Surprisingly, I found I prefer it from a can as opposed to draft, which I almost always prefer. Maybe the place I where I had it on tap were pouring from an older (and flatter) keg though, so who knows? I’ll certainly give it another go on tap if and when I see it. And in the mean time I’ll enjoy it from a can at home.
Ok, seriously. The name alone! I’ve seen this guy in stores for at least a year and keep passing it by because of it’s price and volume – it’s not cheap, and apparently buying beer in large formats is the worst deal out there. But I’m still intrigued by this beer! So winter 2016 will be the time I finally pony up and try it.
Like the other beers in this post, I’m looking forward to trying this one for its described toastiness and its caramel, vanilla, spice, coffee/mocha, leather and earthy flavours. Sounds a bit like a wine, now doesn’t it? Time will tell whether I actually get all those flavours when I finally try it, but I’m looking forward to the challenge.
This beer has been on my list since I saw it while buying beers for my beer advent calendar. I didn’t put it in the calendar because it’s 650mls and that felt a bit too indulgent for a daily advent beer. So instead I filed it away into that little part of my brain marked ‘beers to try later’. Well, it’s later! The rest of this week is forecasted to be quite chilly so I think I’ll pick up a bottle and see how I like it.
This beer is super dark and inky – it’s almost black, really. It’s also brewed with cinnamon, which explains why it’s name points toward the Christmas season. I’m really looking forward to trying it, and expect it to have a lovely full body along with a roasted and slightly spicy flavour. Let’s hope it delivers!
A lot of negative things have been floating around me lately.
My roommate (and one of my best friends) leaving has been tough. While I’m so happy and excited for him to begin his new adventure, I’ll miss him a lot and his leaving has brought up lots of ‘what am I doing with my life’ and ‘not good enough’ feelings for me.
Two friends of mine lost their beloved pets this week. My heart aches to see their pain.
And then, two nights ago, we all heard about the terrible attacks in Paris. (This, only days after another attack in Beirut that left Lebanon in three days of national mourning.)
Usually I’m pretty good at being optimistic and, as my mom says, looking at the doughnut instead of the hole. But these past couple of weeks it has been much more difficult than usual to do that.
It’s tough to feel like you’re trying and trying and trying, only to have the universe ignore you. It’s tough to see people you love lose pets they love. It’s tough to see places you’ve visited, that have helped you become the person you are, be scarred and terrorized.
But what does this have to do with wine and beer? With this blog?
Wine and beer are two things I love. Learning about wine, enjoying a glass of something after a long day of work, visiting wineries and breweries – these are things that bring me joy. When I’m low, when things aren’t going my way, when tragedies happen in my world, it becomes important (imperative, even) to turn to the things I love.
So yesterday, after another long (and at times, sad) day, I picked up a few things and enjoyed some wine while taking some quiet time for myself.
Something from France, in honour of Friday night’s attacks.
Something familiar and well-loved from ‘home’ (Niagara).
A cozy winter brew to curl up with on a cold night.
Enjoying these things, especially during the dark times, helps remind me that things won’t always be such a struggle. Sure, they might seem broken now, but I have to keep faith that it won’t always be thus.
When there is darkness surrounding you sometimes you have to fight to find the light.