Ten beers to usher in the winter
Let Me Tell You About Beer by Melissa Cole, Pavilion Books
"While sinking a cold glass of light, refreshing beer in the summer months at the end of a tough day is utterly glorious, as winter approaches, I love turning to slightly more complex brews.
"Just like anything else in life, a lot of the pleasure of artisan beer is in the anticipation. I recommend pouring a few inches into the glass, admiring its colour and then swirling it around and giving it a really good nose before taking that first glorious sip. I promise you, it will really heighten your drinking experience and is something I heartily recommend for the selection of sophisticated stunners below.
Freedom Dark Lager, 4.7% ABV
When you want the refreshment of a light lager but a little more depth of flavour for the colder months, this is your beer. A caramel nose, with a fresh mineral edge, this beer has a lovely light body, with a hint of toffee and a twist of orange peel at the end.
Available from Freedom Lager
Ilkley Brewery Black, 3.7% ABV
Ilkley Black won a bronze medal in the SIBA Northern region beer competition in 2010.
When you want something satisfying, yet on the lower side of the alcohol scale, mild is your very best friend. This particular example is lusciously espresso-like on the nose and palate, joined by a little bit of astringent redcurrant and a moreish hint of liquorice at the end.
Available from Ilkley Brewery
Thornbridge Jaipur, 5.9% ABV
A perfect match with a feisty, dry curry like a rendang to warm the cockles of your heart, this IPA is an intriguing mix of fresh tropical fruits and zippy grapefruit. It's a zesty passionfruit nose , joined by a tempering sweetness in the middle and ending on a lovely dry citrus note.
Available from Waitrose
Magic Rock Dark Arts, 6% ABV
Come over to the dark side! This is a stunning stout that slinks into your glass with wafts of chocolate and coffee, along with big hits of juicy blackberry and luscious blackcurrant, finishing off on a crackly nettle note that makes you want to slide back in for more.
Available from Magic Rock Brewing
Robinsons Old Tom, 8.5% ABV
You will smile like the Cheshire cat on the front of this bottle when you first indulge in this sumptuous beer. I love this with a cheese board, it's almost like a chutney, full of rich, Christmas pudding-like flavours and a lovely, praline smoothness, with a soft redcurrant end.
Available from Sainsbury's nationwide
Orkney Dark Island Reserve, 10% ABV
Orkney Dark Island Reserve
Each bottle of Orkney Dark Island Reserve is hand bottled and labelled.
This beer feels like it should be served in a brandy balloon and drunk while sitting in a wingback chair and sporting a smoking jacket - it's that special. Aged in Orkney whisky casks, this 'extraordinary Orcadian ale' exudes rich allspice and sandalwood notes, joined in the mouth by an orange liqueur-like note with a hint of cinnamon and a rich, bitter chocolate finish.
Available from Royal Mile Whiskies
Saranac Pumpkin Ale, 5.4% ABV
If you've ever eaten pumpkin pie and loved it then this is the beer for you. Brewed in the US with whole pumpkin and flavoured with cinnamon, allspice, cloves and vanilla, it's also got a hefty belt of warming ginger notes and the lively carbonation means it's never cloying.
Available from Beers of Europe
Chimay Blue, 9% ABV
When you drink a Trappist beer you are doing some good, as the monks plough all their profits back into the upkeep of the brewery or doing good works in the local community. With a fascinating aroma of milk chocolate and a floral hint of geranium, Chimay Blue is significantly rich on the palate with rye bread, sandalwood and rich, deep caramel notes - a classic.
Available from supermarkets nationwide
Fuller's ESB, 5.9% ABV
ESB has won CAMRA's Best Strong Ale award seven times - more than any other beer.
At the grand old age of 40, Fuller's ESB was the original extra special bitter and is still the benchmark for ESBs everywhere. Full of fruit cake and fudge, and with a refreshing marmaladey end, it ticks the boxes of satisfying and warming, and is great with roast pork.
Available from major supermarkets
Saison Dupont, 6.5% ABV
Saisons aren't that familiar to many but are worth investigating for the sophisticated palate. Originally brewed to slake the thirst of farmworkers these have continued to be a traditional Belgian style. A peppery, apricot nose leads through to an earthy, citrus body with a crisp bitter orange finish; it's super with steamed marmalade pudding.
Available from Beer Boxx
Hopefully this selection is just a starting point for you and I hope you enjoy more fantastic brews over the colder months while tucked up with a warming stew and a good book, while the wind howls fruitlessly at the window.
Always drink in moderation - visit the Drink Aware website for the facts
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