With this bloody cold nip in the air, but still a couple months before the official start of Winter, we’ve entered a nasty, windy, often wet part of the year frequently devoid of sunshine, but without any of the charms that snow can bring.
Accordingly, it’s a time of year that’s best suited to a certain kind of beer with a hearty dose of that most comforting autumn ingredient–and I’m not talking about pumpkin.
No. I’m talking about my old friend alcohol. It’s cold and rainy out and it’s a time for comforting oneself with strong drink. So in the spirit of this drab season, here are some potent local offerings that just might serve as a welcome port in the storm.
Amsterdam Brewery’s Tempest Stout
Naturally the most appropriately-named beer on this list, this Imperial Stout originated from Amsterdam brewer Iain Macoustra’s pilot system and has proven so popular that the brewery decided to do a limited release at the LCBO this year. At 9% alcohol by volume (ABV) and 100 international bittering units (IBUs), this is certainly not a beer for the faint of heart–and yet, with a complex combination of espresso, charred malt, and brown sugar sweetness, it somehow manages to be perfectly balanced with a hoppy, bitter, and dry finish. Available in 500mL bottles for $5.95 each, this one’s ideally suited to fireside sipping.
Twice as Mad Tom
Following the success of their fantastic IPA, Mad Tom, Muskoka Brewery has announced the release of their Double IPA, Twice as Mad Tom. With an ABV of 8.4% and a puckering 71 IBUS, the new, hoppier Mad Tom succeeds by taking what people liked about its predecessor and simply doing those things more aggressively, much like the Bourne movies. And much like any Matt Damon-based project, these potent beers are just the thing to get you through a cold mid-autumn afternoon..
Four-packs of 355mL bottles are available now at the city’s Beer Boutiques and in select LCBOs for $12.95.
Mill Street Cobblestone Stout
If you’re a fan of well-crafted local stouts, you’re likely already crazy about Mill Street’s phenomenal Cobblestone Stout. It’s not all that potent at just 4.2% ABV, but with it’s smooth creaminess, it’s about as close as beer has ever come to being comfort food. Unfortunately, up until now, you’ve had to put on pants and actually leave the house in order to acquire some. But no more! Finally tapping into the lucrative shut-in beer market, Mill Street has just announced that their stout is now available in 440 ml cans at the LCBO ($2.90). And, since the can includes a widget that releases a 70/30 mix of nitrogen and carbon dioxide, the pint you pour at home will be just as smooth and creamy as the one you get at the bar–without the pesky dress code.
Cameron’s Rye Pale Ale
Originally conceived of as an entry into barVolo’s 2011 edition of their cask IPA challenge, Cameron’s bottled their Rye P.A. for the first time last year to hugely successful reviews. The pale ale part of this beer delivers the citrus aromas you may expect of a beer that combines British and American hops and it’s got some bitterness on the finish, but the generous portion of rye gives this 6.6% ABV beer a little spiciness that makes this a good one for a chilly autumn evening (or morning–no judgement). Unfortunately, you’re going to have brave the weather for this one unless you know someone who lives in Oakville: Rye PA will only be available in select bars and in the bottle at Cameron’s on-site retail store as of November 7th.
Great Lakes Brewery’s Imperial Black IPA
The third release in GLB’s 25th Anniversary Beer series, the Imperial Black IPA will show up soon in limited quantities at the LCBO and at Great Lakes’ retail store in Etobicoke ($9.95 for 750mL). This beer packs a serious wallop–it’s got massive amount of hops added to it during the boil then it’s further dry-hopped; giving it an impressive 9.5% ABV and 100 IBUs. Because it’s made with dark malt though, this beer’s also got notes of toasted malt, chocolate, and coffee, making it as well-balanced and interesting as it is potent. It’s serious enough to drink on it’s own to get you through a rainy November night’s Walking Dead marathon, but sophisticated enough to bring along if you’re forced to attend a corporate zombie event serving sharp cheeses.
Neustadt 10w30 Brown Ale
While the moniker “brown ale” is a bit of a misnomer given that this is actually a traditional dark English mild, so too is the term “mild” a bit misleading given that this rich, malty beer actually weighs in at 5.5% ABV. Indeed, “mild” here refers not to the strength of the beer but to the ease with which one might drink it–meaning this is a beer ideally suited to cracking and consuming a few of while something simmers on the stove. Since it’s a pleasant, slightly spicy, nutty beer, it not only has enough kick to keep you warm while you slow-cook dinner, but will pair well with that stew when it’s finally ready.
Indie Alehouse’s Instigator IPA
It’ll require a trip out to the Junction (…if you don’t live there), but with growlers of this great citrusy, hoppy beer available at the Indie Alehouse, it’s worth the trip, and worth your $18 (plus a $4 deposit for the bottle) to take home 1.9L of this 6.6% ABV American pale ale. It’s got just enough hop bite to stand out in a crowd and is balanced by subtle malts. I mean, sure, there are a lot of great Ontario pale ales on the market right now, but why not support the newest guy on the market (and the only one you can currently get in hoarding-sized growlers)?