As the big blizzard of 2016 approached (Snowpocalypse! Snowmageddon! Oh Snow it Didn’t!), I decided that this month, for my twelfth beer column, I would do another edition of my occasional series Hunter Wilde’s Flights of Fancy. The theme this time? Beers for snow and shoveling.
Knowing that I was in for a long day and night of hard work, I went for the full six beers. I wanted things that would warm the cockles with alcohol, replace the dark flavors of hot chocolate, and make a dark day of hard physical labor just a little bit better. Here are my choices:
1. Rochefort Trappistes 8: I love a good Trappiste beer, and they’ve been at it for over 400 years. It seemed like a good place to start. Its bubbly-caramel-alcohol warms the insides like brandy from a St. Bernard’s neck barrel. Truth be told, I would drink this every day! And after a bottle of it, I was ready to get out there and start moving the five foot snow drift on my side walkway.
2. Saranac Single Malt Bourbon Barrel-Aged Scotch Ale: This one just sounded cool. And alcohol forward. Win. The result? It’s pretty good. The bourbon is really a very strong flavor, so it’s like adding vanilla extract to a scotch ale. And, while that doesn’t sound terrible, it also doesn’t sound like something you’d want a whole lot of, and that’s what this beer is. Good for a single, gives you the motivation to cut your beer break short and plunge back out into over three feet of snow the plow left at the end of your driveway.
3. Keegan Ales Mother’s Milk: A good milk stout always works. Plus, it has creamy mouth feel, like hot cocoa. Plus, it pairs really well with warm meals you might eat on your dinner break from shoveling. This one is as creamy, dark and delicious Mike Colter. Mm-mm-mmmm. I’ve had better, but coming in from the cold for this stuff made it taste like the most beautiful glass of beer ever.
4. Gulden Draak: IT’S GOT A FUCKING DRAGON ON THE LABEL! Add to that the fact that it’s a Belgian (Again. But, Belgium gets cold, right?) with an elevated ABV but made with dark malts, and I’m getting one. It’s sweet, and the malt really shines through. This one used to be a staple of my beer drinking life, but I hadn’t had one in probably five years. It probably won’t be five years before my next one. And it’s got enough alcohol to numb the aches developing in my muscles from moving twenty eight inches of snow from my driveway.
5. Dogfish Head Burton Baton: Full disclosure, I’ve loved this beer for a long time, so it’s nothing new. I thought, “I’ve got a lot of dark stuff already, let me get something amber and hoppy.” I saved it until I finished raking a four foot snow drift off my roof, and I am forever happy with that decision. It’s beautiful to look at in a tulip glass, and it smells like pine and grapefruit had a baby (believe me, that’s a good thing). The taste is just amazing. It was the first Imperial IPA I ever had, and it is still my favorite one. It is the platonic ideal of Imperial IPA, and quite a fitting way to celebrate the end of shoveling for the day.
6. Ayinger Altbayerisch Dunkel: My love of Ayingerz is matched only by my love of a good dunkel, so this seemed like a good fit. I decided to close with a classic, and it was wonderful. Malty, bready flavors and a lower ABV to cool down into sleep mode.
This flight was so good. There were no weak links. Everything was delicious and worked to anesthetize against the pain of manual labor hoisted upon the unprepared by mother nature. It almost - almost - makes me hope for another blizzard. Now, go get to drinking.
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