Pacific Northwest - If calendars and sense of time elude you it's the Fall season and what better way to celebrate all things related, than with a nice festive dark ale or lager. For those that live in the great state of Washington it’s also a time to look forward to the release of the Pyramid Ales' Snow Cap Winter Ale.
Since 1997, Pyramid Ales has warmed palates, stomachs and memories, with their signature Winter Ale brewed in the style that is unique to the Northwest.
However, Winter Ales were first conceived well before beers like Pyramid, near the shores of the Atlantic Ocean in England. Brewed at higher temperatures than strong ale (to reduce attenuation), and then aged at the brewery (after primary fermentation), this beer mirrors some of the techniques used in today’s porters.
As consequence of the secondary fermentation, the beer took on some of the character found in aged beers (oxidation, lactic, brett, leather, etc.). Used as a base beer for blending or by itself (at full strength) this more modern version should have a ‘maltier’, fuller-bodied (but darker in color) flavor.
With this in mind we investigated why Pyramid's Winter Ale is sought out by local and regional enthusiasts.
Starting with the pour, this beer rests in the glass with a shimmery burgundy color that is clear as a cold, cloudless, winter night. Initially we observe a strong mocha-like foamy head that recedes quickly leaving nothing no lace behind.
Swirling the glass around before placing under the nose, we pick up a roasted-ness along with dark fruits (raisins, dates, figs) upfront with minor earthiness, and hints of apple.
Sipping this we pick up toasted malts, allspice, with a sweet finish found mostly from the bits of dark fruit previously found. A noticeable minor alcohol burn is evident, but nothing to be alarmed about. Overall this beer produces a medium weight as it rests on the tongue.
Deep mahogany in color, our full-bodied winter warmer is brewed in the spirit of British winter ales. Crafted with a flurry of roasted chocolate and caramel malts, and generously hopped, it delivers a smooth finish that makes this beer the perfect cold weather companion.
Relive the 2010 Snow Cap Party See you next year!
Original Gravity: 17.3
Alcohol by Volume: 7.0%
2-Row Barley, Caramel 80L, Chocolate Malt
Nugget, Willamette, East Kent Goldings
October – December
Shellfish, rich game and even rich chocolatey desserts
You Should Try This. With the prospects of a La Nina (2010) approaching in the Northwest, now is the time to warm up to something that invokes a smile to appear on your face. For something interesting, consider this with some apple wood smoked chicken or pork brats, maybe some chocolate cupcakes.
Thoughts by your Colleagues
About the photo’s author
Paul “Fruit Trees” Orchard, is an amateur craft beer enthusiast and amateur photographer. Throughout the many years in craft beer he is always carrying a camera (smartphone, digital, traditional) and is invites you to see that beer can also be exciting even if you can’t drink the photo.
In accordance with new FTC regulations regarding bloggers and endorsements, the aforementioned company has provided me a free sample that was used for research prior to writing this review.