From summer through early fall, we were jazzed to quaff all manner of sours, hazies and more. But now that winter has settled in, our beer fridges are taking on a darker hue — and for Tim Quintyn, tasting room general manager at Port City Brewing Company, that’s no surprise.
“Porters and stouts have big roasty flavors which people associate with being very warming,” he tells InsideHook. “So as the temperature cools, these beers tend to become more appealing.”
And luckily, we have more than enough to choose from in Washington.
“I would actually argue that stouts and porters are what the D.C. area breweries make best,” he says. “Atlas’s Silent Neighbor, Bluejacket’s Mexican Radio, DC Brau’s Penn Quarter Porter, and of course our Port City Porter are all fantastic.”
These hearty brews aren’t just ideal for drinking. Dark beers also make excellent ingredients in wintry recipes like chili, steak and stout pie, and Quintyn’s favorite, stoofvlees, a Flemish beef stew.
“Traditionally it calls for Belgian dark beers,” he says of the dish, “but I have started to make it with porter, as I find the dark malts are a bit more complementary to the beef.” Served alongside Belgian Gouden Carolus Classic, it’s his ideal seasonal comfort food pairing.
But dark beers aren’t the only ones perfect for winter.
“I think any straw-/gold-colored beers lose momentum in the colder months,” he adds. “But a good Dortmunder isn’t too heavy while still having a good character to it.”
With a maltier flavor and a deeper golden color than Pilsner, this style was first popularized by West German coal miners and, according to Quintyn, “can be just what you need after shoveling the car out of the snow.”’
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Speaking of snow shoveling, Washington’s winter chill can be offset somewhat by a high-ABV brew. While Quintyn notes that he does enjoy a low-alcohol malt, “[I] also find myself gravitating towards more double IPAs than I would in the warmer months,” he says.
Indeed, after the spiced beers of Christmas, in January and February, Quintyn looks forward to hoppier brews, made with the freshest of the season’s new hop harvest for a keen bitterness and a decidedly alcoholic edge — especially in the case of double or imperial IPAs. He specifically loves Hershey, PA’s Tröegs Nugget Nectar (7.5% ABV), which the brewery describes as an “explosion” of pine, resin and mango flavors that stem from a choice to “excessively” dry-hop the beer. Our of Kalamazoo, he loves the Bell’s Hopslam (10% ABV), which is made with a whopping six different hop varieties in the kettle and what the brewery characterizes as a “massive” dry-hop addition for “the most complex hopping schedule” in the brewery repertoire.
“There are many others similar to them that now also are released early in the year, but these two have been my go-to for over a decade,” says Quintyn. “I always look forward to finding a six-pack or two when they are at their freshest.”
To finish things off, Quintyn turns to a Flanders red ale either “with (or as) the dessert.” The pFriem Flanders Red is his current pick, brewed in Oregon as “a tribute to the Burgundies of Belgium” with lovely cherry notes and a Pinot-like flavor stemming from a year and a half on oak barrels. It’s his ideal date night beer for a cozy evening in.
With a couple months of winter left, we’ve all got plenty of evenings in on the docket. Now you have the beer to pair with them.
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