It is that time of year.
With seasons quickly changing, it’s fair to assume that tastes alter too. For example, consider the popularity of a cold glass of rosé on a summery afternoon against a wintry day, when a boozy, warming glass of Cabernet or Syrah might seem a better fit. It seems safe to believe the same of a counterpart to wine, beer. That cold-fermented Pilsner certainly went down much more quickly after a hot afternoon spent mowing the lawn than on a chilly one when the car needed shoveled out. Right?
Two beers that signify that change were discussed today, Lagunitas Lil’ Sumpin’ Sumpin’ and Anderson Valley’s seasonally offered Winter Solstice. The first is an American Pale Wheat Ale, a Hefeweizen-inspired, substantially wheat-malted beer (51% wheat malt) introduced by the Petaluma brewery in 2009. It is particularly hoppy since the brewmaster uses all ten “C” hops, albeit in varying percentages, but smooth enough to evoke its German inspiration. The second was a Anderson Valley’s Winter Warmer, or Christmas Ale, whose annual release occurs between September and January. Designed to be malty rather than hoppy, such beers are characterized by wassail-like flavors like clove and cinnamon, with Anderson Valley keeping home fires burning with an ABV (Alcohol by Volume) of 6.9.