The misconception about winter beers is that they're dark, filling, and high on the alcohol scale. Schell's Snowstorm 2014 begs to differ.
It's a Grand Cru-style beer that pours a light copper with an orange hint in hue, and has a 5.2% ABV. The spices define the beer style. Its biscuit malt aroma is topped off with hints of orange, vanilla, and coriander, though the taste is driven by the malts and not any additions, as it should be, with the spice accenting the already present grain profile. There isn't much hop impression, except in the finish, which is crisp and clean before it gives way to a bit of roasty warmth.
This beer with its nuanced flavors is perfect for the season, and it's easy to imagine pairing it with those Christmas cookie baking sessions or, if you're not the baking type, just enjoying said cookies by a warm fireplace. Schell's also recommends pairing with big and hearty foods such as roasts, steaks, and stews.
Last year's Snowstorm winter beer from Schell's was a Belgian golden ale. The brewery changes styles annually, and this year's recipe came together because head brewer David Berg was interested in particular malt and yeast varieties (Red X and Forbidden Fruit).
"The yeast is a good complement to citrus spices, so I chose coriander, sweet orange, and lemon peel, as well as bitter orange to provide a complement/contrast to the yeast/malt contributions," he says, "adding a little bit of Turbinado sugar to help with attenuation and dry it out a bit."
Snowstorm 2014 is available on tap at Loon Café, O'Gara's, Stub & Herbs, and at stores including Surdyks, Chicago-Lake, Hennepin Lake, and Zipp's.
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