BEERS FOR A WINTER's DAY
Remember when winter was exciting? When it meant thrumming across glass-hard frozen hillocks on plastic sledges? Crunching toffee apples as close as you dared to inferno-like bonfires? Back then, it seemed like the best time of year – you were impervious to cold, jolted on marshmallowed hot chocolate, and merely weeks away from receiving armloads of toys at Christmas. Winter had it all - fireworks, advent calendars and trick or treating. It even seemed like you got to stay up later, too, as it was usually dark by 4 o’clock in the afternoon. And best of all, every so often you got to listen for the name of your school on local radio, for childhood’s version of the lottery draw: Snow Day.
Now, though, winter is a drudge. De-magnetising your credit card whilst trying to chip frost from your windscreen. Cartwheeling the arms as a sudden icy surprise has you gliding along the pavement. Cold toes, fingers, ears. The constant, never-ending grimness of it all. Even Movember’s become commercial. The winter worries then appear – feeling for your faithful companion, yelping through the sudden bangs of the fifth of November. Pausing to light the bonfire every time you hear what might be a hedgehoggy rustle underneath. Knowing you’ll have to brave the attic spiders to timidly reach for the box of decorations.
But thankfully, despite all that we have the full wonder of beer at our disposal these days. Grit your teeth against the biting wind and flay the cap off something to cheer you up – if nothing else, that snowman you’ll soon be building will need the empty bottle as a prop…
Drifting, whirling, stinging. Snow is winter, and whilst it no longer means sudden days off (unless things get really bad) where it was once limited purely to sledging, these days it incorporates shovelling, half-abandoned commutes, black ice and a hundred other things. For each and every one of those, you’ll need a beer afterwards. Something comforting, warming – and because in the land of its birth, it can snow in July – Scottish.
Companion style – Scotch Ale
BrewDog Dogma (7.4%) Relax in the finger-like hold of ten different malts
Hoppin’ Frog Outta Kilta Wee Heavy (8.2%) Robust, thick and supremely welcoming
Sometimes, of course, the weather isn’t really bad at all. It’s not good either, it’s just very…British (whether you live in Britain or not). A continual dull greyness, like living inside Tupperware. It saps the strength, by seeping slowly into your bones; and by the end of the day, you’re trudging around like an extra on the Walking Dead. Hands stuffed into pockets, collar up and scarf on, you need something to give you a lift, to spark you back into life. Something with a bit of bite (and not in the zombie sense).
Companion style – Rye
BrewDog Dog C (15.1%) Awaken the senses, and more, with the punchy, spicy Dog C
The Bruery Rugbrød (8%) Three types of rye give this brown ale a peppery lift
Delay (and Repay) Days
For many, winter simply means travel chaos. Leaves on the line used to be a joke, but when you’re staring up at an immobile destination board at a station, it really isn’t. Winter fog dissipates far slower when you’re en-route to the airport, and shouldering your neighbour’s Fabia out of its rutted confinement seemed like a good idea before your feet started slipping backwards. The season of frustration requires the punchiest of retorts.
Companion style – Imperial
BrewDog Hardcore IPA (9.2%) Sometimes, resorting to hop overload is the only answer
Lost Abbey Cuvée de Tomme (11.5%) Dark days make for sour cherrries, bourbon and Brett...
Sometimes, though, everything comes together and the winter’s day is simply unbeatable. Fling back the curtains, expecting the worst, and you’re greeted by beaming sunshine. Everything frosty and sparkling. Sucking the crisp air into your lungs makes you feel like you can do anything (even if it’s just taking the dog for a walk). Billowing clouds of breath as your trusty spaniel bounds around, in that feverishness dogs have when they finally get outside. Forget about work; walk until your feet hurt and go home for the best beer in your collection.
Companion style – something from the cellar
What beers do you reach for when the weather takes a turn?