Beer lovers who enjoy rich, spicy, complex brews look forward to winter each year, and all the seasonal beers it brings. It's sweater weather, after all.
In B.C. we've got several beer-making regions, and they are organized as Ale Trails, perfect for exploring and/or showing off the many incredible breweries operating around the province for locals and visitors alike.
In these chillier months, get a taste of what's brewing for the season, with this guide to 15 of the winter beers you'll find on nine of B.C.'s Ale Trails.
Found on the Vancouver Ale Trail:
Winter Warmer (5.8% ABV | 51 IBU) Dark, rich malts are balanced by Northwest hops for a complex winter ale made without spices, pumpkins or any other unnecessary ingredients that would make a German cry.
Rock the Bells (7.0% ABV | IBU 12) This Cranberry Sour is nice and tart, crisp, and stuffed with cranberry flavour and a hint of brett.
Krampus (8.5% ABV | 30 IBU) Playfully featuring the folkloric Krampus who punishes children who have been bad at Christmas, this delicious Abbey-style Dubbel is rich with flavours of dried stone fruits and subtle toffy notes.
Found on Vancouver’s North Shore Ale Trail:
- Grinch Winter Ale (6.5% ABV | 26 IBU) A tasty Christmas-style beer with vanilla, cardamom, cinnamon and clove.
- Santa’s Sac (10% ABV | 30 IBU) A big and bold Belgian Golden Ale with notes of fruit, spice and pepper.
- Sleigh Booster (9% ABV | 71 IBU) An Imperial Red Ale with a big dose of hops to round out the malt character.
Found on the New West, Delta, & Surrey Ale Trail:
Terra (5.8% ABV) Turmeric, ginger root, white peppercorns and star anise combine with barley, spelt and wheat to create a savoury style saison perfect for the cold months ahead. Terra is refermented in the bottle.
Found on the Port Moody Ale Trail:
Dark Cherry Imperial Stout (8.3% ABV | IBU 60) Go big and bold with this seasonal favourite. This imperial stout is opaque black & full-bodied with flavours of sweet coffee and dark chocolate, and finished with a blend of sweet, dark & red sour cherries.
Lusty Chocolate Oatmeal Stout (5.6% ABV | IBU 23) This fall-winter seasonal comes in at "Naughty" on the sin scale. Tasting notes are of dark chocolate, oatmeal cookies, and coffee. Save this one for dessert.
Found on the Squamish Ale Trail:
Father John’s Winter Ale (5% ABV | 18 IBU) Named in honour of John Mitchell, Howe Sound’s original brewmaster and one of the founders of the craft beer renaissance in British Columbia, Father John’s Winter Ale is a rich malty ale brewed with a blend of fresh ginger, nutmeg, vanilla and molasses.
Found on the Sunshine Coast Ale Trail:
Bière d’Hiver (7.5% ABV | 29 IBU) This award-winning Belgian Dubbel-style brown ale is brewed with hand-made Candi sugar and subtly spiced with coriander, star anise. The fact that Townsite’s brewer, Cédric Dauchot, is Belgian, makes it even more enticing to try.
Found on the Fraser Valley Ale Trail:
Winter Beeracle (7% ABV | IBU 24) This winter ale, available in November, has a mild hoppiness, and pairs great with anything from shortbread cookies to the full turkey dinner.
Dark Mulled Saison (7% ABV | IBU 26) For their winter brew and the third installation of their seasonal saison series, Abbotsford's Field House has a dark saison conditioned on oak infused with Backyard Vineyards Cab Franc and spices like cardamon and cinnamon.
Found on the Victoria Ale Trail:
Hermannator Ice Bock (9.5% | 25 IBU) VIB’s original Brewmaster Hermann Hoerterer designed Hermannator as a seasonal gift to friends and family in 1987, which makes this year its 30th anniversary! This special beer takes over three months to mature, spending a significant time at subzero temperatures to create a rich malt body, with notes of chocolate, coffee and brandied plums. Available in 650-ml bottles and six-packs.
Found on the East Kootenay Ale Trail:
Black Mammoth Winter Ale (8% ABV | 25 IBU) This decadent brew is a rich, strong black ale brewed with chocolate malt plus infusions of dark, organic cocoa and Seville orange peel, and then aged on oak for added smoothness and complexity.