Ultimate 6er – Cabin Fever
As much as I love awesomely bad horror movies, this Ultimate 6er is dedicated to those of us who feel suffocated by heat pumping furnaces and closed windows. Those of us who crave vitamin D, fresh air and warmth to keep us going. Those of us who don’t have the option to hit the slopes on the weekends when the temps drop and the snow piles up. Winter compounds the seemingly easiest of activities—driving, exercising and getting out of bed. Pounds and layers pack on as we wait for the sun god to warm the earth again, so we can arise from the recesses of seasonal depression and couch-dwelling sloth. These beers will save your sanity when the claustrophobic threat of permanent enclosure begets conversation with yourself, and they will cheer you up when the funk of winter harshes your Qi.
The name alone got this one on the list, but a fine beer to boot. This is the beer that got me thinking about how much I dislike a long winter. New Holland rocks this brown ale with a nice rich blend of caramel and dark hop flavors that will have you embracing the madness rather than running from it. Cozy up to this six-pack with a special friend (or with another six-pack if special friend is not available) on a cold winter’s night.
The “Mad Monk” known as Rasputin gained a name for himself in Russia as a healer, prophet and hedonist. Rasputin believed in the healing power of prayer juxtaposed with the notion that making yourself feel better is a great way to stay healthy (and keep your sanity). Rasputin would revel in North Coast’s tribute to him. This beer eats like a meal (for those of you who remember the old Campbell’s Soup commercials with Reggie White). A chewy-thick stout that, while hinting at chocolate and coffee, will warm you for the long winter that awaits. They call it a Russian Imperial Stout, and who knows more about being shackled by a long winter than Russians? A bit high on the ABV scale, but Rasputin was assassinated; he should be bitter.
Delerium Nocturnum Ale (Brewery Huyghe, 8.5% ABV)
As the pink elephants of your mind begin to take over, this beer will jolt you back into reality (even though the name implies it may send you in the other direction). Nocturnum has a secondary fermentation that takes place in the bottle (awesome), bumping up alcohol percentage and enhancing flavor. This Belgium Strong Dark Ale is surprisingly easy to drink—maltiness masks the alcohol. I guess suggesting this beer is like fighting fire with fire … fight the delirium with some Delerium.
Iron Throne Ale (Ommegang Brewery, 6.5% ABV)
Winter is Coming … and this blonde ale is an homage to the George R.R. Martin’s book series A Song of Ice and Fire, and HBO’s softcore porn adaptation, Game of Thrones. It will be released in March of this year, coinciding with the third season of the series to begin (so no, I have not yet tried it). I included this beer because it is described as inspired by and the perfect accompaniment for watching the show. I am going to apply that to all forms of winter sloth—be it netflix-ing, board-gaming or screened-in-porch drinking.
Slap Happy Brown Ale (West Sixth Brewing, 7.0% ABV)
American Brown Ale aged in 25 year old Pappy Van Winkle barrels (a very fine bourbon for you non-Commonwealthers). A real treat for people who enjoy both beer and bourbon. This will warm your chilled bones in the midst of sub zero days, week, or months. This is a bourbon barrel brown ale as opposed to a bourbon barrel stout. In a stout, there is often only a subtle hint of bourbon as the character of the beer overpowers. Slap Happy is a merry marrying of bourbon and beer rivaled only by the union of porches and drinking in the history of things that make people smile.
Oberon Ale (Bells Brewing, 5.8% ABV)
My favorite wheat beer around. The label itself beams with the promise of the end of Winter, donning a bright, smiling sun. It is light and fragrant with a tangy, zesty finish. Oberon—the taste of the beer and the aesthetics of the bottle—lifts me from the malaise of a bad day or a bad season almost immediately. Perfect for a summer’s day or at least to evoke memories of that summer’s day in the doldrums of winter’s wrath.