Winter is upon us, and it’s the perfect time of year to start curating your menu with some bold winter beers. From chocolaty stouts to dark ales, these winter holiday favourite brews are, rich, hearty, and perfect for a cozy night at home.
Check out this list of our top six, along with some tasty ideas for pairing suggestions.
1. Something about stouts.
Stouts are dark, delicious beers everyone will enjoy sipping on a chilly evening. They’re smooth and smoky with chocolate, caramel, and coffee undertones. They also have a level of creaminess that will make your customers melt.
Sweet food pairing: Chocolate-hazelnut napoleons Or any decadent, chocolate-forward dessert, really. We’re a bit obsessed with these particular pastries though. Filled with chocolate hazelnut crème and crowned with crumbles of hazelnut brittle, they’re an elegant little bite sure to be a big hit this winter.
Savoury food pairing: Roast leg of lamb
Stouts have a super-bold taste, so they pair well with strong, gamey meats, and rich blue cheeses. The creaminess and smokiness of stouts will enhance the charcoal flavour of any grilled meat or roast entrees, such as beef, lamb, venison, or duck.
2. It’s ale good.
Brown ales will hit a sweet spot with your customers because of their toasty, caramel flavour. They’re also known for their fruity and spicy notes so they pair incredibly well with warm winter dishes and toasty desserts.
Sweet pairing: Old-fashioned pecan pie
Brown ales have a hint of caramel goodness, so a slice of warm pecan pie is the perfect pairing to complement the beer’s nutty and sweet flavours.
Savoury pairing: Slow-cooked hoisin pot roast
Consider pairing them with stewed meats, roasts, and vegetables slow-cooked in sauces. The rich and lightly caramelized profile of a brown ale will balance the fresh flavours of roasted vegetables, as well as the meatiness of a stew.
3. Go over to the dark side.
Dark lagers are a seasonal delight. They offer a rich, creamy texture with aromas of lemon and orange peel, a touch of bitterness, and notes of dark chocolate and seasonal spices.
Sweet pairing: Blueberry cheesecake. When dark lagers are paired with a fruit-covered dessert, they produce an explosion of taste. Dark lagers have a distinctive chocolate flavour, mixed with notes of coffee, so they pair nicely with cheesecakes and fruit.
Savoury pairing: Schweinebraten (roast pork)
With its rich smoothness and slightly sweet aroma, this beer complements hearty red meat dishes. Wrapping the pork tenderloin with thinly sliced onions and coating it in mustard before roasting creates a tender, flavourful cut of meat that will satisfy everyone this winter.
4. Melt into a malt.
Porters are a great addition to your winter menu. They have a nutty malt, chocolate aroma, and earthy hops to round out the flavour profile. They tend to be more chocolaty than brown ales, and less coffee-like than stouts.
Sweet food pairing: Vanilla ice cream
Porters are rich and full of chocolate flavour, so they pair wonderfully with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. The sweet and creamy vanilla balances out the bitterness of a porter and creates a delicious combination.
Savoury food pairing: Charcuterie board
Porters are a fantastic pairing for the finest smoked meats and strong cheeses. It has enough mocha and toasty complexity to match any cheese, while the alcohol helps neutralize fatty meats. Any dish less distinctive wouldn’t be able to stand up against the intense flavours of a porter.
5. Livin’ la vida mocha.
Nothing warms you up on a cold day like a hot cup of coffee. But why not go one step further and add a coffee beer to your menu? Typically a porter or stout with added coffee flavour, they’re defined by a mahogany colour, with aromas of coffee, mocha, toasted malt, and hops.
Sweet food pairing: Fudgy chocolate brownies
Bold, dark coffee beers require strong, rich food pairings like decadent chocolate brownies. With these brews’ deep roasted notes, brownies are the perfect balance of sweet and bitter to make for an ideal pairing.
Savoury food pairing: Duck breast with sweet cherry sauce
This beer flavour combination harmonizes with sweet sauces and fatty meats. The coffee complements the spices in the duck’s crispy, golden-brown skin without overwhelming it.
6. Sour power.
Add a burst of tartness to your menu this winter. After one sip of sour ale, your customers will notice the intricate and fruity aromas of the brew. Sour ales can be made with many different types of flavours and hops, but they all have one thing in common: they’re acidic and refreshing!
Sweet pairing: Lemon poppyseed cake
Lemon makes for a great pairing with a sour. With its lovely crunch and fruity taste, this cake finds balance and freshness from the beers’ tropical fruit aromas.
Savoury pairing: Spicy baked sea trout in lemon butter sauce
Sour ales pair nicely with all sorts of seafood dishes, especially those that finish with some fresh lemon, as it complements the tart flavour of sours. The stark fruitiness and complex characteristics of these brews pair perfectly with a trout’s delicate flavours and buttery richness.
Have any more winter beer menu ideas and food pairings?
Share them below. Cheers to a season of good food, great company, and delicious winter beers!