7 beers to get you through the winter

We love beer regardless of the season, but like a lot of things some varieties are better in certain seasons than others.

When I think of great beer for late fall and winter I want something that is bold, robust, can warm up your insides, but is still refreshing. Also something that pairs well with a nice warm hearty meal (think winter comfort food ie. roasts, stews, soups, earthy winter veg, etc).

Here are a few of my favorite beers for the winter season. If you can get these where you live, give one a try (if you haven't already).

Howe Sound Brewing - Rail Ale Nut Brown:  This one defines the term "smooth"...a flavourful nut brown ale with hints of chocolate and licorice and a delicious roasted malt finish. Drinks well with ANYTHING, but particularily hearty fare such as burgers, sausages, stews and smoked fish, as well as many cheeses and desserts.

Innis & Gunn - Rum Cask Oak Aged Beer:  A perfect marraige of rum and beer...they're children will be beautiful ; ) Aged in oak barrels that previously contained navy rum, this ale acquires aromas of caramel, toffee and citrus fruits. Deep red in color, it's matched with the unique, sweet, spicy flavours imparted by the rum barrel and a hint of vanilla that’s compliments of the oak. Definitely a sipping beer, and the higher alcohol content  (7.4%) results in a warm finish (because baby it's cold outside).

Guinness:  The Black Stuff. People either seem to love it or hate it. With the deep earthy flavours and silky smooth head I'm not sure what is not to like love here. The "perfect pint" of Guinness requires a double-pour method which according to the company should take 119.53 seconds, hence the slogan "good things come to those who wait". Studies claim that Guinness can be beneficial to the heart - researchers found that "antioxidant compounds' in Guinness, similar to those found in certain fruits and vegetables, are responsible for health benefits because they slow down the deposit of harmful cholesterol on the artery walls...enough said, cheers to that!

Granville Island Brewing - Lions Winter Ale:  One of my favorite beers in the entire Granville Island lineup. The caramel malt and vanilla flavours will make you feel all warm and fuzzy on the inside (ladies, think "Love Actually"). Only available October - March, this is a nice balance of sweet and bitter that is perfect for a cold winter day.

Brooylyn Lager & Sam Adams Boston Lager:  Both are great day-in-day-out beers to have stocked in the fridge. Really, these are great throughout the year, but the strong malt flavours supported by a refreshing bitterness and floral hop aromas make them both great matches for earthy winter-style foods and snacks. Sam Adams even claims their beer tastes better in their specially designed glasses...I say it tastes great even if drinken out of an empty paint bucket. Can't go wrong with either.

Russell Brewing - Blood Alley Bitter:  Part of their Brewmaster Series of speciality beers...picture a cold but sunny winter day, you've just finished a few hours of snowshoeing, snowboarding, or other outdoor activity, and are craving a crisp and flavourful reward for your efforts...this is the one. Slightly higher in bitterness than the average bitter but very well balanced by the rich, roasted malt flavours (hello winter!) and crisp finish. The well-designed painted label shows that they take care both inside and outside of the bottle.

I have to admit, these 7 beers really don't make winter seem all that bad!

Which one's did I miss?...Chime in with some of your favorite winter beers.

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