New Orleans Drinks (weekly column):
Breweries rolling out their winter beers
New Orleans Times-Picayune
December 18, 2010
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Seasonality is the buzzword of the year. For beer makers, though, it's hardly a new concept. When the cold weather arrives, breweries from the Low Countries to the north shore ship their winter beers.
So what is a winter beer?
Abita Beer's Christmas Ale is one of the many winter beers available in the area. "It's a catch-all category," said David Blossman, president of Abita Brewing Co. "It's what people do to celebrate the season."
Abita's Christmas Ale, which changes each year, is maltier than previous versions with a spicy note of hops.
"There are really no restrictions as to what makes (winter beers) special," said Dan Stein of Stein's Market and Deli (2207 Magazine St.). "Some are simple American IPAs, some add spice, some bump up the alcohol."
At his Lower Garden District deli, Stein stocks more than 25 winter beers, including Gouden Carolus Noel, Rogue's Santa's Private Reserve Ale and De Ranke Pere Noel.
Both Whole Foods Markets carry many winter brews, with a larger selection at the Metairie location (3420 Veterans Memorial Blvd.) than at the Uptown store (5600 Magazine St.). Martin Wine Cellar in Metairie (714 Elmeer St.) also has a stock of both U.S. and European winter brews.
Mandeville beer bar The Barley Oak (2101 Lakeshore Drive) currently has four winter beers on tap and nine in bottles, including Anchor Christmas ale, Ridgeway's Reindeer's Revolt and Brooklyn Brewery's black chocolate stout, and the Bulldog Uptown (3236 Magazine St.) features on draft the Abita Christmas Ale and Delirium Noel.
The Avenue Pub (1732 St. Charles Ave.), the dependable location for unusual beers, will find out on Saturday at 4 p.m. if warm beer always is bad. Owner Polly Watts will serve steamy tastes of EKU 28, a German beer often served warm in Franconia, and Nogne O's Underlig Jul, made in the style of the Norwegian mulled wine called "glogg."
"They are heavily spiced and taste truly terrible when served cold," Watts said. "Warming the beer makes the spices less sharp and bitter. It mellows the whole thing out."
For $7.50, you can taste three of the Avenue Pub's winter beers, including plenty of cold options such as Mahr's Christmas Bock and Santa's Little Helper from Mikkellerr. J'Anita's, the bar's restaurant, will bake fattigmann bakkels, traditional Norwegian fried-dough cookies.
Retrieved from Lexis-Nexis on July 4, 2010.