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Your guide to winter beers

The snow’s flying, so it’s time to settle into deeper, richer flavours and warm up your winter with tasty seasonal brews


Belgian dubbels

These chestnut brown ales are a triple threat: they have the toasty, caramel taste you’d expect from a deep brown brew, plus dark fruit and light baking spice notes from the strain of Belgian yeast that goes into them. A dubbel is the ultimate wingman with any dish that’s braised, roasted or stewed, because its caramel notes play up the mellow flavours of slow-cooked meat or roasted veg. Serve one at a party with Asian-inspired hot appetizers, like crispy spring rolls and pork dumplings, to coax out the beer’s spicy notes. Or take it really easy and see how nicely it plays with instant miso ramen.


Belgian tripels

Think of a tripel as a Belgian dubbel cranked up to 11 — fuller bodied with lots of peppery flavour. But there are key differences: a tripel is hazy and golden, and its fruity flavours are more on the peach or pear side. There’s basically zero bitterness in this beer, so you can pair it with “difficult” vegetables, like asparagus or roasted brussels sprouts. (Make sure you add some bacon; we don’t need to tell you why). This brew is a dinnertime MVP with glazed ham because it enhances the meat’s savoury appeal.


Full-bodied stouts, such as imperial, milk and oatmeal

Thank goodness for winter: it brings all sorts of special stouts to our shelves. Each category has a secret weapon that makes it the ideal partner to certain foods. Imperial stouts have a super-bold taste, so they pair well with strong, earthy meats (like lamb) and funky blue cheeses (like Stilton). Oatmeal stouts are made with — you guessed it — oats, so they have a creamy texture that works with hearty stews, Swedish meatballs and vegetarian chilis. For dessert, milk stouts are where it’s at. They’re made with lactose, a natural sugar found in milk, which gives them a hint of sweetness. Serve one alongside fudgy brownies, pumpkin pie or cheesecake.


Crisp, light lagers

When friends come over and ask for a beer, what do you hand them? We bet it’s a crisp, golden light lager. Why? Because it’s the world’s comfort beer. Dry, brilliantly clear and packed with bubbles, light lagers are delicious with all your favourite pub-style snacks, including beer-and-cheese dip, nachos and chicken satay. Plus, they do a great job of removing any oiliness on your tongue between bites. Pro tip: Stock up on a 2-4 for a party and you’ll save an average of $9!


Red ales

Pale ales get a lot of love, but these ruby red numbers deserve the limelight, too. Their pretty colour comes from caramelized barley, which also adds toffee, caramel and toast flavours. Most red ales have a hint of sweetness and not much bitterness, so they can tackle all your favourite tomato-based dishes. Pizza with tangy marinara sauce? Check. Spaghetti and meatballs? Yup. And they’re a stellar choice with pulled pork and Chinese takeout, too.


Extra special bitters (ESBs)

These British-style brews really are as good as their name promises. ESBs offer a well-balanced flavour trifecta: biscuity, sweet malt; earthy hops; and light, jammy notes from the yeast. They’ll bring out the spices in your jerk chicken and favourite Indian curries — and let’s all agree they should be your first choice when eating good ol’ fish-’n’-chips.