24 Beers of Christmas – December 19th: Samuel Smith’s Winter Welcome Ale
A taste from Yorkshire’s oldest brewery. When it comes to finding traditional English-ales, done well, in Ontario, there aren’t many that can compare to what Samuel Smith has to offer. The Old Brewery in Tadcaster was founded in 1758, before being purchased by the Smith family ninety odd years later and eventually changing its name to Samuel Smith’s Brewery. The company, which is still family-owned today, has various products available at the LCBO throughout the year, but their special releases, during the holiday season, are a particular treat. Whether it’s their mixed pack featuring their India Ale, Oatmeal Stout and Chocolate Stout, or, today’s beer, Samuel Smith’s Winter Welcome, these malty-English ales boast some wonderfully festive and nostalgic flavours.
Samuel Smith’s Winter Welcome Ale is a particular type of British Strong Ale known as a Winter Warmer. While the name is often associated with mulling-spiced beers, which may have come from the tradition of wassailing (where people would sing to trees and consume hot mulled cider), the true Winter Warmer is spiced with hops alone. These’s beers are brewed for the cold winter months, with a big malt presence that brings with it a darker colour, ranging from deep auburn to nearly pitch black (though never opaque), along with fairly full mouthfeel. Usually accompanied by a noticeable alcohol heat, these beers are meant to be sipped and enjoyed.
Winter Welcome is a great example of the style, with an array of wonderful flavours including dark fruit and plum, toffee and burnt caramel, bread and biscuit and even some chocolate. It has a nice hop presence with great earthy, herbal and even somewhat minty notes in there. There’s quite a lot going on in this beer, but somehow it all comes together. A blend of some pretty wonderful holiday tastes and smells which are sure to excite the senses.
Style: British Strong Ale (Winter Warmer) – 6.0% ABV, 3 IBU,
Food pairings: Cornish Game Hen, Extra-Old Cheddar , Plum Cake