My family was super excited to see New Belgium Brewing (Ft. Collins, CO) has finally made it all the way out to Cincinnati. Conversely, I’ve actually been really excited about the Cincinnati (and Ohio!) beer Renaissance, so I tried three very different local winter ales while in town this year.
Christmas Ale, Great Lakes Brewing Company (Cleveland)
This is a lighter-bodied beer than most winter warmers and ales. Instead of the typical heavy clove flavors, this ale has a strong fresh ginger flavor with hints of cinnamon. The honey-ginger combination makes the beer almost floral, but it’s not cloying or sweet.
By the way, if you’ve never tried a local honey, the floral flavor in honey is actually pretty strong. I know local raw honeys are more expensive than the generic stuff, but if you have the chance to try some, I can’t recommend it enough. In the Pacific Northwest, I’m particularly fond of Wessels from Oregon, but I think the best honey I’ve ever had was from my friend Caroline’s bees in Suzu.
Winter Ale, Mt. Carmel Brewing Company (Cincinnati)
This winter ale has spruce, which adds an interesting twist. Roasted malt notes with hints of raisin and cinnamon flavors; a little bitter.
Winter Ale, Rivertown Brewing Company (Lockland/Cincinnati)
This ale would be a great dessert beer. I don’t usually go for the sweet ones, but I felt like the balance was good. The beer is brewed with actual molasses and pairs a big, bold molasses flavor with lots of cinnamon and cloves. Does what it says on the box!
All of these beers are excellent–just depends what kind of beer you prefer!