Winter beers to embrace or escape the season

By / Wine + Drinks / February 18th, 2020 / 16
winter beers

Well, that is it for the holidays. Eggnog, peppermint chocolate, family gatherings and massive holiday feasts are over, leaving us with plain old January and February. As fun as a good snow day can be, this time of year can bring many people down: it is when we realize that winter will be staying around much longer than we may like.

One reason not to feel down is the many opportunities to get nice and cosy indoors at home or in your favourite pub and enjoy some wonderful beers that will help you either embrace or escape the season.

First up, your usual winter beer suspects: imperial stouts.

Guelph-based Wellington Brewery’s Imperial Russian Stout, Gravenhurst’s Sawdust City Brewing’s Dark Voyage to Uranus Chocolate Oak Aged Long, and Dieu de Ciel’s Péché Mortel (if you are lucky enough to find it outside of Quebec). These beers offer a fantastic amount of rich dark chocolate and roasted coffee notes and a low alcohol content, which will be sure to keep you warm and cosy during the cold winter days.

The logical second choice is Belgian beers.

Tripels from the likes of Westmalle and La Trappe offer a bright colour with some lovely hints of spice and Belgian candi sugar that give these beers a complex, warming flavour. For something a little darker, Dubbels like Chimay Premiere and Unibroue Maudite offer notes of bread pudding and cloves, and are perfect for a slow sipping session in your comfiest chair. And for a beer long said to be one of the best out there: Duvel. This strong pale beer has a nice boozy character combined with the flavours of apricot and banana.

Lastly, if you want to fight the season and keep things light and bright, you cannot beat a beer filled with light colours and bright flavours.

A personal favourite is California-based Sierra Nevada’s Hazy Little Thing. This wonderful IPA pours unfiltered, bright orange and tastes like a veritable fruit salad. Sharp jabs of grapefruit dance well with notes of peach, mango, and lemon to make for a refreshing burst of sunshine to fight off those winter blues for good. A second personal favourite is Toronto-based Amsterdam Brewing’s Space Invader IPA. Lots of grapefruit citrus notes are followed by a slight apricot flavour and a big hit of pine towards the end. For a 6% ABV beer, it tastes rather light, and is a bright, juicy option for getting your head out of the glum snowy season.

Want more winter beers? Chase away the winter blahs with these three suggestions from Tod Stewart.

Robin LeBlanc is a beer columnist, award-winning blogger at, and co-author of The Ontario Craft Beer Guide, a guidebook to all of Ontario's breweries now in its second edition. She lives in Toronto.

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