Over the next few days I’ll be catching up on re-posting the First Draught columns from January and February that I haven’t gotten to yet. Looking at all three, a common thread that stands out is how much variety there is between various winter beers. I think there is an impression that stouts and porters with their black colour and heavily roasted malts are the most appropriate choices for cold weather. The contrary idea that has been confirmed in my mind as I’ve gone through my choices is that the more accurate thing to say is that winter beers are about warmth.
Alcohol gives a perceived sense of warmth and actually stouts (except the imperial versions) tend to be weaker and weigh in below the somewhat standard 5% abv. It’s more of a stretch, I guess, but it’s also fair to say that winter beers tend to come in bigger bottles—this one, Shipyard’s barley wine, is packaged in a 625 ml bottle. I imagine there are solid production-side considerations here like cost, marketing, and ageability, but from the consumer perspective a bomber calls out to be shared. Shared beers for when we’re inside with friends and family; smaller individual bottles for the outside months on the dock or patio. (more…)