Welcoming “Winter Warmers”

New Year’s Inspirations for the Chilly Months Ahead

Text by Mark Baune

We’ve said goodbye to 2016 and hello to 2017. Many have set the bar high with resolutions for the New Year, and of course many of those call for cutting back on the things we love. That’s all fine and dandy but there is one thing I will not be cutting back on and that is BEER! I do however resolve to broaden my horizons by opening my palette up to new brews. Let’s kick off the New Year by checking some great winter warmers off the list.

First up is Stone brewery’s, “Who You Callin’ WUSSIE”, a very good representation of a northern German pilsner. This is definitely not your dad’s BUD! This comes in a six pack of 16 ounce cans and checks in at 5.8 % ABV. The can alone is worth buying just for the awesome graphics. It pours a very clear, medium gold color with a small white head that dissipates quickly, leaving some nice lacing. It gives off a crisp pale malt aroma with the presence of earthy piney hops. It blends the grove and the forest and balances out with a soft, bready maltiness. I poured the first one in a pilsner for observation but quickly drank a couple straight from the can… it’s just that good!

Big Sky Brewing’s limited release of Power Wagon Wheat Wine Ale is fantastic! This American-style wheat wine is brewed with three different types of wheat and checks in at 10% ABV. It comes in a 12 ounce bottle but should be poured into a snifter to really appreciate the brew master’s crafting of this great beer. It pours a cloudy golden amber with a small whitish head that falls quickly producing very minimal lacing. It is quite fruity and sweet but stops short of being cloying. This medium to heavy bodied ale has moderate carbonation with a crisp finish but is very much a warm winter sipper. Power Wagon is a very well crafted beer and pairs nicely with blue cheese.

Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout –OMG! WOW! HOLY COW! …what a beer! It is made with Heaven Hill Distillery’s 30 plus year-old bourbon barrels that are filled with Bourbon County Stout and allowed to sit for two more years. This is a limited yearly release with its 2015 checking in at 14.5% ABV. Montana law only allows 14% ABV… sorry, no go on the 2015 but 2016 checked in at 13.8% and is available. This is an imperial stout made with six malts giving it a midnight black color when poured into a snifter, which is only proper for a beer of this pedigree. It quickly forms a small brown head that dissipates quickly leaving small bubbles at the edge. It has the sweet bourbon flavor you would expect from a barrel aged brew with a chocolate after taste and despite the high ABV, there is no alcoholic burn. These will lie down well for years to come. If you can find it, I would suggest buying more than one.

Cheers and happy beer hunting — Beer Man