There’s a curative pall that settles over long December nights – the twinkling blue cast of fresh snow, the sharpness of the air in your nostrils. Shadows move behind blinds, smoke curls from chimneys, and your breath plumes and vanishes as a solitary rabbit leaps from moon shadow to moon shadow.
You can’t step outside on a night like that and not contemplate things malty and roasty, which is what we are doing this month (with a notable nod to something sour and wild from Jolly Pumpkin). Whether we’ve been out walking the dog or shoveling snow, when we come back inside, we want something to warm us up. And we don’t mind filling up a little, too. Which is why these brews top our list of December draughts.
Guinness 200th Anniversary Export Stout
Guinness history changed forever in 1817 when Benjamin Guinness (founder Arthur’s son) brewed the first Guinness beer with a new roasted grain called Black Patent Malt. His stout recipe laid the foundation for how Guinness would brew for the next 200 years. Guinness 200th Anniversary Export Stout is a new variant inspired by the same dark ruby red color and complex flavor of Benjamin’s beer from 200 years ago. Rich and full-bodied with notes of caramel, toffee and sweet chocolate, it’s smooth-drinking with just the right amount of bitterness.
Loch Down Scotch Ale
Take a step into the Scottish Highlands with Loch Down and be greeted with a Scotch Ale worthy of lads and lasses who want character in their glasses. A rich garnet color and the aroma of ripe plums entice a sip that brings to mind roasted chestnuts and toasted biscuit. Maris Otter barley – the best on the planet – is the backbone of an ale well-crafted for the woman in the tartan skirt or the man in a kilt (regimental, of course!). A wee bit of heritage is contained in every draught and bottle.
(Roughly, SLAWN-cha, “cheers” throughout Scotland and Ireland)
Loch Down’s full body and roasted chestnut and biscuity notes make it an excellent partner with rich meats – roast leg of lamb, roast beef, wild game, smoked salmon – and rich desserts – think chocolate soufflé and New York style cheesecake.
Jolly Pumpkin Oro de Calabaza
Oro de Calabaza is a sour artisan golden ale aged in large oak casks and refermented in the bottle. It’s spicy and peppery with a gentle hop bouquet and beguiling inﬂuence of wild yeast.
Oro’s full body allows it to be paired with any rich dish. Pan-seared salmon, rich cheeses, and mussels are great choices. Or enjoy with a dairy-rich dessert such as a fig panna cotta with a little pepita brittle.
Leinenkugel’s Snowdrift Vanilla Porter
Snowdrift Vanilla Porter is a robust and very drinkable porter-style beer aged on real vanilla and brewed with a distinct blend of pale, caramel and dark chocolate malts as well as roasted barley.
The first thing you’ll notice are aromas of fresh cream and vanilla, followed by rich malt and soft roast-like notes. Fresh cocoa and vanilla flavors are up front with subtle roasted notes and hints of dark fruit. Look for a lingering finish with sweet flavors of vanilla, dark fruits, and some warming spice
Snowdrift Vanilla Porter pairs wonderfully with cool weather main dishes and desserts. Try to contrast savory roasted meats or complement the natural sweetness of roasted root vegetables. Don’t be afraid of spicy heat as the beer’s subtle sweetness tames it perfectly. Fruit-based desserts and glazes also work well.
If you’re looking for a good lineup, Snowdrift Vanilla Porter will beautifully complement everything here, from the first course to dessert:
• Sweet Potato Casserole with Marshmallow
• Glazed Ham with Cherries
• Cucumber Salad with Feta and Lemon Vinaigrette
• Spicy Chicken Mole
• Berry or Cherry Cobblers