When my friends at What’s Brewing suggested I put together a list of BC’s best winter beers, the first list I wrote out was basically all big, boozy barrel-aged beers. Then I thought, wait a minute, this list might not be for everyone…
So I decided to break it up into two lists, one for “extreme” beer lovers, like myself, and one for regular folk (see here) who don’t want their beer to knock them on their asses after one glass.
Feel free to buy and send me some of these beers! Hint, hint!
For more gift ideas, check out this year’s What’s Brewing BC Craft Beer Holiday Gift guide.
Howe Sound—Woolly Bugger (11%)
Brewed to the English style, i.e., not hopped to hell, Woolly Bugger pours a deep mahogany color with a complex malt character that has hints of treacle, toffee, raisins, caramel, chocolate, plums, and blackcurrant, with a warming alcohol finish.
This beer is consistently excellent, year after year. I always make sure to buy an extra one to cellar. That’s going to make quite the vertical!
Strange Fellows—Boris (10.3%)
Boris is a Russian imperial stout that has been barrel-aged for one year prior to release.
It is characterized by huge roast barley and dark chocolate flavours, with suggestions of dark & dried fruits adding complexity, and peat smoked barley lending a Scotch-like nose.
Fernie—Barrel-Aged Baltic Porter (11.3%)
This strong dark lager was aged for 9 months in oak barrels which once held bourbon, before being shipped to Guyana, where they were filled with El Dorado rum for 12 years.
It is rich and boozy with flavours of caramel, toffee, and vanilla. Deceptively easy-drinking for the ABV!
Parallel 49—Crown Jewels Barley Wine (11%)
Parallel 49 really knows how to make a good barley wine. After being out of production for a few years, they have finally decided to bring it back for the holiday (release date TBA).
This special cork & cage release was aged in Sagamore Spirit rye whiskey barrels for two months to impart rich flavours of spicy rye, dark fruit, and charred oak.
They describe it as being full-bodied with notes of sweet vanilla, molasses, honey, toffee, and caramel with hints of dried prunes and dark chocolate covered raisins, and a long warming finish.
Scarlet is a rye barley wine that was carefully aged for months in Woodford Reserve rye whiskey barrels.
The result is a vibrant red brew with rich flavours of caramel, toffee, vanilla, rye spice, and oak, with a warming finish.
Parallel 49 Brewing—Russian Imperial Stout (11%)
Parallel 49 hasn’t released this year’s RIS yet, but I’ve been assured that it will be out before Christmas. It’s always a solid imperial that has all those lovely notes of coffee, chocolate, and roasted malt that characterize a great stout.
Rumour has it that they aged this year’s version in Sagamore Spirit rye whiskey barrels for two months, which would be amazing!
Sooke Brewing—Barley Wine (11%)
This award-winning English-style Barley wine is resinous with the rich malt character of the barley that was 100% grown and malted on Vancouver Island.
Its long aging period in bourbon barrels provides bourbon sweetness and notes of vanilla from the oak of the barrels.
Category 12 Releases—Convergence (10.3%)
Convergence is a barrel-conditioned version of a rye old ale C12 released back in 2016. The base beer has been refermented for two years with Brett. lambicus in a blend of 75% bourbon barrels and 25% wine barrels.
The Brett is imparts hints of cherry, while the bourbon barrels add smoothness and depth to the surprisingly delicate spiciness of the rye
Lighthouse—Depth Charge (8.7%)
The 2018 version of Depth Charge is an oak-aged rye whiskey dopplebock, with rich notes of toasted bread, caramel, toffee, a hint of vanilla, spicy & earthy rye whiskey, and toasted oak.
It’s one of the best Depth Charge releases yet! Though I would like the Scotch ale to come back one year!
Category 12—Anomaly (8.9%)
Anomaly is a big, bold ale reminiscent of a Belgian Quadrupel, which was aged in Woodinville Whiskey American oak bourbon barrels for 10 months.
The assertive bourbon character is tempered by notes of dark fruit, sweet vanilla, and coffee, while hints of candied sugar and clove peek through the toasted malts
Vancouver Island Brewing—Hermannator (9.5%)
Named after their original brewmaster, Hermannatoris a German-style Eisbock—an extremely strong lager that has been freeze distilled.
It has a rich malt body, with notes of chocolate, coffee, and brandied plums. This year they even made a bourbon-barrel aged version if you are looking for something a little different. I still think the original is the best, TBH!
Fuggles & Warlock—DarXide (9.9%)
Formerly know as Dark Side, this Russian imperial stout has a bold & creamy body with notes of chocolate, coffee, and black currants.
What I like about this one is that it’s an unadulterated imperial. No adjuncts, no barrel-aging, just straight-up malt deliciousness!
This story originally appeared on Bring Your Porter to the Slaughter.
Read parts I and II now:
12 BC Winter Ales That Everyone Will Love This Holiday Season
12 Big BC Winter Beers for the Extreme Beer Lover This Holiday Season