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New to What’s Brewing: our Tasting Panel! In concert with our partner, Legacy Liquor Store, we’ve selected products from five breweries located around BC that you will find fairly widely available during the winter months. We think comparing products in a particular style or range is a great way to share information about how and why we would assess and drink a certain beer. Our volunteer judges don’t claim to be perfect, so pick up a bottle of these products and taste along at home to see if you agree with their findings.

What is a Winter Ale?

The beers selected for this feature can all be referred to by that name, but that doesn’t mean that they’re all the same style. Some classes of beer, of which “Winter Ales” is a good example, encompass a wide range of interpretations. Case in point: this edition’s winner is Townsite Brewing for their Biere d’Hiver, formerly labelled as a Winter Ale (in English, that is), and now instead called Belgian Dubbel, no doubt for clarity and accuracy.

Big, bold, coloured red through black and often spiced, Winter Ales are heavier beverages whose higher alcohol content is warming. Speaking of that, don’t drink them ice cold; let a chilled bottle warm up, then pour into a beer chalice. Related names and adjacent styles include Winter Warmers, Old Ales, Imperial Stouts, Barley Wines, as well as various porters, stouts and similar heavy ales. You’ll find a wide range of such products released in November and December each year; just ask your friendly retail liquor outlet.


How the beers were scored

Our unsanctioned competition uses a Zagat-like 30-point rating based loosely on the BJCP Scoresheet, including a weighted scale as follows:

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