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Welcome back to another round of beer tasting! As the temperture plummets here in Australia I thought it would be timely to stoke up the fire and try a range of beers that just taste better in the winter. These real ales, stouts and bitters are great on a cold wintery day and I have grabbed a stack of new brews from around the world to test. Some of the beers have been in my cellar for 12 months to help them mature even more and I will highlight these ones to you as we progress.
So maybe open a beer and settle down to read about some of the best winter beers in the world. Cheers Michael
John Smith's Extra Smooth 3.8% Alcohol UK (Yorkshire)
I love this beer! Whenever I am in England I buy a case to drink while watching the soccer. It has a deep brown colour & the most creamiest head you have ever tasted. Contary to popular opinion it is made to serve cold, not hot as in most English pubs!
This ale has a smooth nutty flavour with a taste of cream from it's head. There is a deep bitterness to the beer that is only apparent about 30 seconds after a mouthful.
A truly lovely beer that keeps it's head to the very end. Highly recommended.
Big Helga Dry Munich Style Lager 4.7% Alcohol Matilda Day Australia
This is a heavy, sweet, hoppy full flavoured lager. There is a real golden amber to this brew (even though it doesn't hold it's head). This is a Victorian beer, from one of the craft breweries now in Australia that is taking the nation by storm. On a cold night this is refreshing enough to be in front of a hot fire while being complex enough as well. Close your eyes and you too could be in Munich!
Newcastle Brown Ale 4.7% Alcohol UK
This is one of my favourite beers of all time. It's dark and strong to help get you through those cold North East winters on the North Sea. It's also not too bad to drink while watching Newcastle United play!
It has that great ale after taste that puts hairs on your chest. It's best to enjoy this beer cold - not straight from the shelf as some pubs in the UK like to serve it. A really top drop.
Estrella 4.6% Alcohol Spain
I was hoping to be sipping this beer to celebrate Barcelona's journey to the Champions League final. Unfortunely, not this year. This Barcelona brewed beer (and Barca Sponsor) is light and refreshing - perfect for warm summer days and nights. So it really doesn't sit in a winter beer category, but good beer can be drunk all year round!
It has a perfect lager head and colour. This beer you could drink all day - whether you were watching Barcelona play...or not!
Guiness Draught 4% Alcohol Ireland
The greeting of a black beer with a creamy head makes you think of Irish pubs and roaring fires...or a theme pub! The first taste is of tar and the heavy texture brings back memories. It's a greta beer in front of a fire, but it is definately not a summer beer.
It's also not as heavy as it looks or as compared to other stouts while still retaining it's depth that enables it to be very drinkable. You seem to know that it is winter when you crack open one of these.
The head stays the whole way down and it is a very enjoyable winter beer. Long may we return to partake!
Monteith's Doppelbock Winter Ale 6.0% Alcohol New Zealand
This is a sharp bitter ale that has a smokey flavour and a chocolately malt aftertaste. I bought a 6-pack a year ago and have let it mature for a year in my cellar.
It has really come on with complex flavours and a real bitterness. The only criticism is that it is very srong for an ale ad you can't have too many! Monteith's decribe this as a Bavarian ale with a full malty flavour which creates a voluptuous beer with a fiery red hue. They are right.
Monteith's is a boutique NZ brewery with a lot of beer styles - worth checking out.
Matilda Bay Fat Yak Pale Ale 4.7% Alcohol Australia
This is an ultra hoppy beer. The label says that it is 'a blend of premium pale malted barley and a truck load of hops' - too true!
I usually drink this beer at the Qantas Club before my many flights and I can concur that you really can taste the citrus and fruit flavours in it's character along with a truckload of hops!
Matilda Bay is another Australian boutique garage brewers that has grown up and now produces a range of batch beers and special releases for their patrons. This beer is very different and it's worth trying to locate a bottle to try.
Coopers Extra Strong Vintage Ale 2011 7.5% Alcohol Australia
This is the annual special Coopers release. I bought this bottle a year ago to cellar and to allow it to mature as recommended by the brewer. It can last up to 5 years in the cellar!
Wow - it has a burnt flavour full of malt, hop and yeast characters. This really complex flavour is so enjoyable and more complex than traditional ales. You can taste honey and while it is high in alcohol you can't taste it. This is really enjoyable.
The colour is a dark tan, the head is creamy and the flavour is out of this world. Fire up the fire and enjoy a couple of these!
Coopers Best Extra Stout 2011 6.3% Alcohol Australia
This is another beer I've had in the cellar for a year. The advertising for this beer has always been that it's perfect for 'Brass Monkey's weather' and it really does put hair on your chest!
It has a burnt caramel flavour in it's deep black heart. Unlike Guiness it lacks a creaminess, but it has more complex ale and stout qualities and taste.
I can remember many a morning in my youth waking up to a middle of the head headache due to a night of indulgence on this beer!
Like most Coopers ales this is bottle fermented and as such remains as a perfect beer in front of the fire on those very cold nights.