Mulled ale is a warming winter cocktail for beer lovers
Well, Autumn was fun while it lasted. Now we are entering the truly chilly season and, personally, I cannot wait. What can I say, I love the holiday season! I love the beautiful falling snow, and the delightfully chilly air — a welcome respite from the incredibly hot summer. But what I love most is the parties. It is always lovely to come in from the cold and warm up with good food, good drink and even better company.
I often have a bottle of something in my cellar or a special six pack at the ready for impromptu winter festivities. But when hosting my own holiday parties, I plan some unique drinks that are a touch more…traditional, with a beery twist, of course.
The holiday favourite is, of course, eggnog. This creamy, sweet, delicious beverage served with an optional cinnamon stick or pinch of nutmeg is always my festive drink of choice. It is even better with a shot of rum in it, however, few people think of adding a good glug of beer to the mix. Let me tell you, friends: you are missing out.
Randy Mosher wrote a simple enough recipe for beer nog in his wonderful book Tasting Beer: An Insider’s Guide to the World’s Greatest Drink “A reasonable approach is to fill a 12-oz glass one-third full of hearty ale, adding a half an ounce of bourbon, rye or dark rum, then topping up with the prepared nog mixture, leaving room for a dollop of whipped froth on top. Really puts you in the holiday spirit.”
While any eggnog (including store-bought versions) will do the trick, making your own is life-changing. There are a lot of recipes out there, but if you can hunt down Alton Brown’s, you will not be sorry. As for which beer to add, a dark spiced ale like Wychwood’s Bah Humbug! or Great Lakes Brewery’s Winter Ale will add a lovely warming punch. Or beers like dark imperial stouts can add a coffee-like boozy warmth.
Another of my favourite beery takes on a holiday drink is mulled ale. A spiced ale like the ones I recommend for the beer nog or a classic English dark ale add a nice mildness to mulled ale that you do not find in its sweeter wine-based counterpart, with no shortage on holiday cheer!
Curious? Here is a mulled ale recipe to try for your upcoming party.
1 1/2 bottles (18 oz) brown or Christmas ale
2-3 tbsp dark brown sugar
2 star anise
5 cloves (add more to taste)
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 whole cinnamon stick
1 orange, sliced into rounds
1/4 cup of brandy to add before serving (optional)
Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to medium-high heat until just barely simmering. Bring heat down to medium-low, cover and leave to simmer for at least 15 minutes, up to 3 hours. Strain and serve with an orange slice, cinnamon stick, or any desired garnish.