By: Javier “El Cerveciafilo” Sánchez Valenzuela

Many people don’t usually associate a beer with feeling less cold in winter. Generally, in our latitudes we think that a beer should be refreshing, to quench thirst on a hot day. This is because the vast majority of people are only familiar with the beers that are usually readily available at corner stores, and these are usually pale lagers.

Beer, however, also has its seasons just like many other drinks and foods. The winter season has a large number of beers made to take off the cold and have a good time during an afternoon or evening in the company of loved ones.

Christmas and New Year’s beers fall into what we know as seasonal beers, which are nothing more than beers made to be consumed during a particular time of year. They are usually used for celebrations of all kinds in spring, summer, autumn, and winter.

Winter beers can be of many different styles, although they all share certain common characteristics that make them fit perfectly with the character and events of these months.

The main characteristics they share are:

Higher alcohol percentages. It is no secret to anyone that alcohol gives us a feeling of warmth that goes down very well right now. Winter beers usually have alcohol percentages that easily exceed 8% APV and easily reach up to 12% APV. It is for this reason that this season’s beers are recommended to be consumed discreetly and in volumes that don’t cause us problems with our peers, with the police, or with our health.

Winter cherries often contain spices. Just yesterday I had an excellent locally produced beer containing chocolate and cinnamon, the experience is delicious. It’s not strange to find aromas and flavors of nuts, ginger, honey, molasses, or piloncillo.

Winter beers are generally darker. We owe this to the fact that the malt is roasted using various methods so that it acquires a body and a characteristic smell. This roasting is what gives it that smell and flavor of coffee that is so comforting, it is even more and more common to find smells of wood smoke, a product of various artisanal roasting techniques.

They have a higher than average caloric content. Bad news for those who go on a diet at this time and want to enjoy an authentic winter beer. In fact, we can say that these beers are the opposite of light beer in that they offer low-calorie content, low alcohol content, low flavor, and washed-out colors. This high caloric content is another factor that helps us to endure the cold stoically while we enjoy a winter season beer.

The characteristics noted so far are ideal to accompany the dishes that are traditionally cooked during winter. I recommend accompanying your next pozole with a good bock-style beer. Or roast or baked meat or ham with a porter. Even the honeyed or sugared fritters or the pecan or chocolate cake, I suggest you accompany them with a Stout-style beer. They are perfect combinations that we can’t enjoy all year round.

What new beer did you try this week? Explore, have fun, lose yourself in diversity. Look beyond the corner store.

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