Five, Old Ales To Fight Off Winter’s Chill
Whenever the holidays hit, a lot of us use those delightful days as an excuse to drink more—be merry in the moment. But now, the trees have been dutifully disposed of, and another new year has hit us—what now? Well, what better reason to experiment with brews than it being absolutely (wicked) cold outside?
And hey, if summertime gets its own spot of sacred sauces, why wouldn’t winter have the same amount of attention? This season’s all about dark, sweet and strong suds. Further, us sauce sages seek brews simply for the taste and architecture of ales. But these beers should keep our insides at a higher temperature to prevent our outsides from freezing.
In order to accomplish this, check out this array of old ales—close kin to American- and English-style barleywines. These beers are usually complex, full bodied and brewed to mature well or enjoy fresh. In these drinks, there should be detections of caramel, toffee and molasses alongside a small-to-sensible amount of carbonation. Enjoy these mashes at cellar temperature (55 degrees). Keep in mind that old ales pack a punch and should be sampled with a mighty hunk of red meat. Get your hands on these hops, as you sit down to dine with friends and family.
With all that education and incentive, below is a list of elegant and easy-to-find libations, which will keep that inner fire roaring through this winter.
Hibernation (Great Divide Brewing)
Definitely among our favorites of the olds, Hibernation Ale is at the lowest end of the ABV spectrum (8.7 percent). But this brew’s hefty enough to help you endure the icy outside. Great Divide Founder & President Brian Dunn said, “Ironically, I actually came up with the recipe in the heat of summer in 1995, sitting on my front porch in shorts and flip flops. I ended up designing a beer to escape the cold when I was trying to escape the heat.” While this six pack of suds is usually seen on store shelves between October and December, it should still be sitting out—maybe on sale! And like all old ales, these elixirs don’t expire rather grow more amazing with age.
Burton Baton (Dogfish Head)
Of course we had to give you an ale with a two-for-one taste—part old ale, part DIPA. Burton Baton was brought across in casks of wood (10,000-gallon American-oak tanks) built long before Prohibition. And you can’t go wrong when Sam Calagione says it’s “the most under-celebrated beers” in Dogfish’s cabinet. Because of hybridization, the Citra sits well alongside vanilla and oak aspects the barrel bequeathed onto the beer. This one’s 10 percent ABV and available all year.
Curmudgeon Old Ale (Founders Brewing)
[Photo: Buffalo Brewhound]
Could you get a better beer than a potent potion processed by an outfit called Founders? (We think not.) Curmudgeon is part of the Michigan mash crew’s specialty series. It’s just under 10-percent ABV, so it might sneak up on you. They’ve tossed in a ton of molasses in this ale and aged it in oak, but you’ll have to wait on this mash until March—grab it before it all ends in April. If you find a four pack, drink half of ’em immediately, but keep the other two on the proverbial back burner—it’s cool if this ale kicks it for a year.
Third Coast Old Ale (Bell’s Brewery)
Just because this beer’s listed as a “barleywine,” it doesn’t make it any less lively and loving among alers—it even has “Old Ale” in the name! Feast on this foam while it’s fresh. It has a sweet and malty start but ends with a beautiful amount of bitter hops, which can often seem over-the-top in terms of American barleywines. Allow time to pass, as it’s to be ingested after aging—the hops hides away, disclosing a sweetness in a mellowed-out full-bodied mash. It’s at an excited 10.2-percent ABV state and sold in six packs. Also important, Bell’s thinks of the Third Coast as “the Cognac of the beer world”—better get out the snifter and smoking jacket!
Old Stock Ale (North Coast Brewing)
Old ales are normally known as stock ales, as they’re beers usually kept historically at their respective brewery. Therefore, our finale is California’s North Coast kicker—an homage to the old-school suds halls of England. Old Stock Ale’s a super sauce (11.8-percent ABV)! Its maximum-strength hops and malts are England imports—authentic all around. Comparable to a classy wine, this libation’s “intended to be laid down,” according to the crew at North Coast. Pick up a four pack, empty one into you and shelve the others—repeat process next year.
[Photo: James Shartle]