What to get when you’re expecting snow?
It’s a question that has plagued tipplers, winos and beer snobs for centuries. Everyone has their own list of essentials, and it varies depending on mood, availability, what you have in stock, and, of course, your monetary situation.
In preparation for the most recent spate of wintery precipitation, I, myself, spent far too much at my local store on liquid fortitude, but I regret nothing.
First of all, I bought some Rumple Minze for my hot chocolate. If you’ve never had the pleasure of this wintry delight, perhaps you have melted a candy cane into your cocoa. It’s really the same idea, only you also get the warming sensation of a strong schnapps. I also have a personal connection to peppermint schnapps, because this was the first alcohol my dad ever let me have. I was in high school (freshman? sophomore? something like that), and he sent me out to shovel by myself. When I returned, he handed me a juice glass about half-full of the stuff and said, “here, this’ll warm ya up.” And he was correct. Personally, I consider a bottle of Rumple Minze snow-day necessity.
I also needed to replenish my stocks of rye and cherries for manhattans. Few things are better than getting warm and elevated next to your girl on a cold night, and having a couple manhattans is a pretty good way to get there quickly. Personally, my favorite mixing rye is Rittenhouse. It’s a bit stronger than most rye whiskey (100 proof), but it has a really delicious butterscotch flavor to it that really makes your cocktails pop.
However, you probably shouldn’t have more than one or two manhattans if you’re not planning on getting a pretty heavy buzz, so you will also need beer. I am a real fan of big, dark, robust winter beers. This time, I got two.
Hotbox from Oskar Blues is something I hadn’t seen before from an excellent brewery out of Colorado (though they have added some additional brew sites elsewhere). I’ve previously written about how hit-or-miss porters can be, but I trusted Oskar Blues to give me something delicious in a can. This did not disappoint. First, the porter flavor is delicious (roasted malts, with just a touch of chocolatey bitterness). But the coffee…they paired with a craft roaster from CO and the result is fantastic. It’s real, and really good, coffee, and it pairs with the roasted malts of the porter exquisitely. My only knock is that it doesn’t quite have the viscosity of truly superlative porters like Founders, but I will be purchasing this one again.
Finally, my find of the winter has been Brooklyn’s Insulated Dark Lager. It should be noted that dark lager was my first love and may still be my favorite style of all, so I was always predisposed to like this beer. But, even Mrs. Wilde loves this beer. It has a bit more hop than the Hotbox (as one would expect from a lager), and is a touch sweeter, but the sweet malts are roasted, giving them a carmel quality. They also add some black barley to it, which gives a rich bitterness, not unlike coffee, that gives this something special beyond a basic dunkel. I really like Brooklyn Brewery, because they rarely sit on their laurels. But, some of their beers, in my opinion, miss in the execution. This one does not. It’s the right beer for the right time of year. Think of it as your flannel sheets, or the thermal under your t-shirt. It’s beer to keep you warm, and it’s delicious.
So, make your shopping list and stock up before the next snow rolls in, or you’ll be cold and sober, with only bland beer to motivate you while you shovel. Don’t be that guy.