Winter is in full swing, but just because we are enjoying the cooler weather doesn’t mean we have to give up great-tasting beers. Just like food, beer styles change with the season. From amber lagers to stouts and all the brews in between, get to know the perfect beer style for you this winter, how these popular styles complement the season’s festivities and how to pair them with some of your favorite comfort foods.
First, let’s talk about beer styles.
Popular Winter Beer Styles
Brown ales are a popular style of winter beer because they have a fuller body. Caramel, chocolate and roasted malts give it a rich, brown hue, and earthy hop profiles contribute to smooth flavor that will warm you up during the cooler months.
Another popular style of beer for the season are stouts. Similar to brown ales, stouts are a full-bodied beer packed with flavor, but this beer’s flavor is much more intense and typically resembles a complex, deluxe coffee. With a high level of hop aroma and flavor, it's a dark beer that keeps beer enthusiasts on their toes.
Of course, dark beers aren’t for everyone. If you're looking for a lighter winter beer, amber lagers are a great choice. Though they are a pretty popular beer all year round, amber lagers make a great beer for the season because, even though they are a medium-bodied lager, they still have a toasty flavor that pairs great with colder weather and many winter dishes. That, topped with its caramel-malt character and balanced hops, makes it a fan favorite for outdoor adventures, get-togethers with family or just enjoying a nice beer after work.
Pairing Beers with Popular Winter Dishes
Pairing food with beer is an art, and the practice is both fun and rewarding. When thinking about the types of food we eat during the winter, we typically eat heavier foods such as grains, vegetables and hearty soups like chili and gumbo packed full of red meats and poultry. EveryDay Health reported that on average, we typically eat 86 more calories a day during these seasons while also increasing our fat and saturated fat intake.
With this in mind, here are a few things to consider when pairing beers with food:
- What are the main flavors that stand out in your dishes?
- How intense are these flavors?
- How can I best balance out these flavors?
Just like with any other drink, different beers can tone down or emphasize flavors. This is why it's important to know how the beers you serve will interact with the main flavors of your dish. As a general rule, intense flavor profiles match well with other intense flavors. Beers that are heavy with hops will intensify the flavor of spices, so keep this in mind if you are preparing your chili extra spicy.
Pairing Beers with Outdoor Activities
In Arkansas, we can’t talk about fall and winter beers without talking about what beers work for popular outdoor activities, and with Arkansas being the duck capital of the world, that means duck season. If you're looking for just the right beer for the occasion, try Flyway Brewing's new Flying Duck amber lager. It has a 4.9% ABV with aromas of caramel malts and is drinkable with balanced hops that make it great for duck camp.
Whether you're hosting an event this season, enjoying a nice meal at home or on an outdoor adventure with friends or family, there is always a perfect beer for every setting. This year, get creative with your pairings and try something new.
Matt Foster is the owner of Flyway Brewing in downtown Argenta. The microbrewery created its Flying Duck amber lager in partnership with RNT Calls and the Flying Duck Taproom, and is hosting a giveaway through the end of the month. Learn more here.