JAMES NEVISON James Nevison is an award-winning wine writer, an educator and the co-founder of HALFAGLASS. He is the wine columnist for the The Province , where his column “Wine Guy” appears each Thursday. James is the co-author of seven best‑selling books on wine in Canada, including Had a Glass 2015: Top 100 Wines Under $20 . Follow his wine musings @hadaglass.

Seasonality means darker beers in general, as more roast on the malts lends nicely to toastiness on the taste buds! It also means bolder flavours overall.

T here’s an old saying, “There’s no bad weather, only bad clothes.” Its origin is Scandinavian, though the adage also feels appropriate for British Columbia, particularly during the winter. The reality is that there are a myriad of activities and festivities to enjoy over the holiday season—all of which can be enhanced by seasonally pertinent clothing and complemented by seasonally relevant craft brews. For the holidays, this seasonality means darker beers in general, as more roast on the malts lends nicely to toastiness on the taste buds! It also means bolder flavours overall—all in the name of helping ward off winter chills. More specifically, a number of strategies are worth keeping in mind when pairing beer with the exciting busyness of the holiday season. Dark Ales for Dark Nights Part of the magic of the holiday season is how, thanks to all the events and gatherings, the winter nights never feel dark or long (that will come later, like mid-January). That said, the colder, longer and darker nights do lend themselves to darker beers. It’s simply seasonal sensibility. Beer gets its colour largely

Dark Lagers Too Don’t overlook the dark lagers! While lager yeast is not as associated with darker beers overall, it can work its magic with more roasted malts. There are many dark lager styles, with a common thread being gorgeous brown to brown-black colour, toasted and nutty tones, and a lip-smacking lager finish. Then there are bocks, strong dark lagers unafraid to show off their malty overtones. They’re just the thing to sip while savouring a fondue or a wintertime barbecue. Try the Hermannator Ice Bock, a seasonal release from Vancouver Island Brewing. ’Tis the Season for Added Flavour Of course, a great way to get festive is to get extra—as in adding extra flavour. So, sure, there are classic dark beers ready to take on any festive occasion, but why not opt for a seasonal brew from Steel & Oak, such as the Smoked Honey Doppelbock? Adding a layer of smokiness is like adding an extra dimension, in this case like sipping the memory of a wood fire—a perfect pairing for holiday festivities while chilling in an ugly Christmas sweater.

from malt. The more roasted the malts, the darker the colour of the beer. The darker the beer’s colour, the more caramelization is at play. And just as browning food brings out robust and comforting flavours, the same principle holds for beer. Fortunately, when it comes to ales, there is no shortage of beers that fit the darker bill. There are brown ales, which are literally named for their various shades of brown in the glass, from dark amber to cacao. Brown malt, which is simply roasted pale malt, lends the beer its darker colour, and often notes like caramel and chocolate too. In Belgium, brown ales are known as brunes, and while they are a similar colour, they tend to be stronger Trappist or abbey-style ales known as dubbels with gregarious malt profiles. Dageraad’s Brune is a locally made classic Belgian-style dubbel. Then there are porters, which share a similar brewing process and colour with brown ales but typically see a heavier hand with the hops. Reputedly, porter beers are named for their popularity among the porters who admitted patrons in England’s markets. And while these days stouts are associated with the darkest of beers, their name was originally used to signify a stronger style of porter beer—literally “stout porter.” Category 12’s Deviation Dry Irish Stout celebrates the holidays with a hint of vanilla.



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