HOWE SOUND BREWING, Squamish BC
Father John’s Winter Ale
5.5% ABV 18 IBU Style: Winter Warmer
For the last ten years if not longer, I have taken a 1 litre bottle of the Howe Sound Father Johns Christmas Ale with me to share at a Holiday party or dinner. Whether the group is filled with wine drinkers or beer drinkers, the ale is always well received.
The beer was originally released in the early 2000s, with a recipe created by Howe Sound’s original brewer John Mitchell (hence the name Father John) and is based on an English and traditional Winter Warmer recipe. In the last two years, there has only been one notable change to this ale. To make this beer the slightly more sessionable, the ABV has been reduced from 7% to 5.5%.
This beer pours a very rich, dark copper colour with warm highlights and a light and fluffy off white head that dissipates slowly.
The aroma and flavour is a reminder of a liquid Christmas toffee pudding with malt forward flavours of biscuit, molasses and caramel which help to complement the array of spices of vanilla, ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg. And this is when you really appreciate carbonation in beer! This beer is so rich in flavour, the medium carbonated bubbles really help to cleanse the palate. It’s a great sharing beer for the holidays!
YUKON BREWING, Whitehorse, Yukon
Fruitcake Spiced Ale
5.5% abv, 15 IBU Style: Winter Warmer
Just like fruitcake is a Christmas tradition, so too is a fruitcake spiced ale release from Yukon Brewing. For many years they have released some form of spiced dark ale for the holidays with subtle changes over the years.
The 2018 version is a Winter Warmer that has been brewed with cherry, apricot, cranberry, mandarin puree, ginger, cinnamon sticks, allspice, and vanilla bean. Everything you would expect from a fruitcake.
This is a Winter Warmer on the lighter side, without the higher alcohol content (only 5.5%) and without the alcohol warmth you tend to taste with beers over 7 or 8 %. It pours a rich and deep garnet colour with a very light head that disappears quite quickly, while the carbonation is very light.
The spices are not overwhelming, allowing for the candied fruit, the light breadiness and a hint of molasses from the malts to shine through. An easy drinking spiced amber ale for the holiday season.