Too Cold For Beer?


Now that November is approaching the halfway mark, it's time that we start thinking about preparing for the cold weather. Actually, it's beyond that time, but with the unusually warm weather we've enjoyed in Ottawa this month, sometimes it's hard to think about snow, even though we can be under a foot or so of it at this time of the year.

When it comes to beer, we sometimes think of one with a good full body. Something that will give us comfort in this cooler climate. And that's why this weekend, I tried a winter ale. St. Peter's Winter Ale. 

Only, I screwed it up. I'll tell you why in a second, but here are my initial tasting notes.

St. Peter's Winter Ale (Strong Ale): $3.95 for a 500 ml bottle at the LCBO; 6.5% alcohol/volume.
  • Colour: cola brown; slight highlights of red
  • Nose: light herbs and yeast; not much to pick up
  • Taste: slight tones of rye bread; not much spice
  • Body: light; not what I'd expect from a winter ale, but easy-drinking; slightly sweet finish; no alcohol overtones (that's a good thing!)
I was a little disappointed by the apparent lack of flavours. Although it wasn't bad, it wasn't great. It was very easy-drinking; too easy-drinking.
And then it dawned on me: this is an English ale, a real ale. The problem with this beer wasn't how it was made, it was how I had served it. The bottle had been in the refrigerator all day. The beer was cold. Too cold.

Before I finished my first pint, I removed my second bottle of the ale from the fridge and let it warm at room temperature. But sadly, when I opened and consumed the second bottle, it was still too cold, even though it had sat for an hour before I poured it in my glass.

And so, the next day, I returned to the LCBO and bought more, but didn't refrigerate it at all before opening it. And it was like having a different beer. The body was fuller, the aromas more intense, with added hints of chocolate. On the palate, the rye bread was more pronounced, with more flavours of hops thrown in.

This was a great beer.

I imagine that the LCBO won't have this ale in stock for long, so I suggest you grab some soon. But do yourself a favour. Don't put it in your fridge. Drink it at room temperature.

After all, it's getting cold enough outside.

If there's condensation on the bottle, it's way to cold!

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