It is finally feeling like winter here in Colorado with night-time temperatures dropping well below zero. The days are short, the nights are long, cold, and dark, and frost envelopes fully around us. During these bone chilling days and nights I find it is best to enjoy a robust beer or warm cocktail to stave off the intrusive cold coming from all sides. These are just a few of my my favorite beers and recipes that I keep handy in case the temperature drops.
Abbey Belgian Style Dubbel from New Belgium is throwback to very beginning of the brewery with its deep monastic roots. This was one of their first beers that New Belgium brewed in its inception in 1991 and this updated 2015 recipe does the style amazing justice. Abbey pours clear from the New Belgium tap with a deep reddish brown that looks like a perfectly restored hard-wood table with billowing off-white head pouring thick bust dissipating fast. The nose is a bit earthy at first whiff with subtly sweet notes of chocolate and banana making their way to the forefront along side mild tobacco undertones. The taste is slightly sweet at first with the chocolate malts shining through with a subtle spicy bitterness finishing the first swallow off. The Belgian Yeast and seven malts, including caramel Munich and Chocolate, harken to the days of old were Belgian monks used this sublime creation to keep warm during the onslaught of winter.
I love collecting fine and vintage beers in my cellar and this past week I decided to crack open a 2016 “Eh?” Royal by Wiley Roots Brewing and was blown away by not only how good of a beer it is, but how well it aged. “Eh?” Royal uses Wiley Roots’ superb Imperial Stout as a base then ages it in Crown Royal barrels with maple and pecans. The resulting brew is the perfect balance of soul-warming alcohol forward goodness that is tempered with the subtle sweetness of maple and subtle nuttiness of the pecans. Aging “Eh?” Royal in my temperature controlled cellar resulted in an even further mellowing of the imperial and alcohol forwardness of the beer making it a subtle and easy drinking delight that warms you almost instantly. This is the perfect brew to enjoy by the fire as sun slowly sets on yet another cold day.
The king of warm winter cocktails has to be the classic Hot Toddy. This is a ruthlessly simple cocktail to make; boil water in a tea kettle as you add 2 ounces of Bourbon, 2 teaspoons fresh honey, and a the juice from 1/4 of a lemon to the bottom of a coffee mug. Fill the coffee mug with boiling water, let cool a bit, and then enjoy the easiest, most refreshing, and satisfying evening hot cocktail you can make. I prefer to use a simple yet high quality small batch Bourbon like Bulleit for your classic Toddy, but if you want to get creative and honor an American classic you cannot go wrong with substituting it with Laird’s Applejack liquor. With Applejack as the base the classic Hot Toddy becomes something truly special and reminiscent of the great American west.
So whatever your choice is, even if it is a non-alcoholic cider or tea, be sure to make your favorite drink as the cold descends upon us so that you can survive the brutalities of winter with something that warms from within. So cuddle up in front of the fire with a loved one and start sipping your favorite warmer while quietly reading during this cold yet wonderful season.