You’ve heard the term “winter beer” but do you really know what a winter beer is? Would you be able to name one or two? More than just a beer that’s brewed during the colder months, so-called winter brews are crafted to be hearty and satisfying when the temperature drops, similar to a good meatloaf or a savory beef stew. Beer enthusiasts say the tradition of brewing winter beers originated in the British Isles and Germany where creating special winter brews to banish the chill had been going on for centuries.
Characteristics of a Winter Beer
- Thicker and more full-bodied than ordinary beer
- Generous malt presence, both in flavor and body
- Some are spiced or flavored with pumpkin, cloves or nutmeg; others stand alone on the artful combination of malt and hops
- Generally made with less water (thus having a higher alcohol content than ordinary beers)
- Color of a winter beer can range from a light red to a dark, inky black.
Serving Winter Beers
Most winter beers are best served just slightly below room temperature, at about 50 degrees. Serving malty brews that are fully chilled tends to mask their flavor. Unlike lighter, “summer” beers, winter beers are designed to be consumed slowly, not chugged.