By Chris Heagney
The holiday season is over and we’ve successfully ushered in a new decade, but there are still a few more months of winter staring us down. If you are not observing “dry January,” then you’re still looking to cozy up with some winter beverages. We may have moved past the season for hot buttered rum and eggnog, but a hot toddy, Irish coffee or mulled cider can still serve as a warming choice.
Some beer styles are especially well-suited to the winter months, and some are only available during the colder season. You’d be remiss not to enjoy a pint of Asheville Brewing Company’s Ninjabread Man (a seasonally spiced porter) or Highland Brewing’s Cold Mountain Winter Warmer before spring arrives. As far as winter beer staples in Asheville, these two are high on the list.
Stouts are another easy choice for the season. There are plenty of excellent, dry stouts to choose from, but if I’m feeling bold I’ll reach for barrel-aged or boozy stouts. Olde Hickory Brewery’s Lindley Park is an imperial stout brewed with honey and raspberries, then aged in bourbon barrels. Rich and complex, this beer clocks in at a hearty 10 percent ABV. Hi-Wire’s 10W-40 imperial stout with coffee, chocolate and vanilla is another solid winter beer selection.
As far as international beers, you can’t go wrong with a classic Trappist Belgian ale. Establishments like Chimay and Rochefort have been brewing fantastic beer for more than a hundred years. Perhaps a bit less well-known, but equally perfect for the season, is rauchbier, a traditional German smoked beer with peaty, campfire flavor. Schlenkerla is a brewery that specializes in smoked beers and they brew a variety of different ales, all with their proprietary smoked malt.
There are endless choices for winter cocktails, but if I want to make something easy and delicious at home, this is what I find myself mixing up:
4 oz sweet or medium-sweet spiced cider, such as Noble’s Spice Merchant
1 oz Irish whiskey
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Stir together, serve over ice and garnish with an orange slice
A cozy winter drink will make it easier to enjoy the tail end of this chilly season.
Christopher Heagney is the owner of Daidala Ciders, located in Asheville at the Cotton Mill Studios at 122 Riverside Drive.