Given Nemo and the recent snow, I figured that snowbound beer drinking was a suitable topic for our first “A Beer for Every Occasion”. So what should you drink during a storm? At this point in the year, all I really need from a beer is for it to help me forget how sore my lower back is from shoveling all day, but let’s assume that you’re not as cynical as me yet and still found some sort of wonder or romanticism in Nemo. Maybe you got to curl up with a loved one, or maybe it reminded you of childhood snow days. Maybe you were just looking to celebrate getting the day off from work. Whatever the case, you probably would have enjoyed the Hearthside Winter Ale from Night Shift Brewing in Everett.
If the name itself doesn’t make you want to stoke the fireplace and settle down with a good book, the taste certainly will. A “dark ale featuring cherrywood smoked malts and juniper berries”, a sip of Hearthside starts with sweet dark fruit (cherries and plums?) with a hint of caramel before moving on to the taste of bitter dark chocolate that balances the flavor profile nicely, along with a subtle woodiness. It’s one of the more ambitious and delicious winter ales I’ve tried. It lacks the Christmas-evoking spiciness often found in the style, and is therefore a great choice all winter long.
Or, if you are as cynical/sore as I was after Nemo, you could just go through an entire case of Harpoon’s Celtic Ale and dream of St. Patrick’s day and warmer weather, which is exactly what I did.