Ah, it's been too long again, sports fans. Here's another quick rundown on some cool imported and craft beer from around the world...maybe not all particularly "Winter" brews, but tasty nonetheless. Ratings range from 1 (crap beer) to 3 (decent, drinkable) to 5 (perfect and transcendent). As always, enjoy your local and craft beer, and down with corporate beer!
HOEGAARDEN WITBIER (Belgium) - 3.5
Pours a faint, pale gold, with a rich and immaculate white head. Nose is spicy sweet, with hints of citrus, coriander, and flowers. The taste is rich and spiced, but with a light body. Definitely lighter and less complex than other Belgian ales. Hoegaarden has a friendly and mild taste, is easy to drink, and is one I'd consider a good stepping stone to the more impressive Belgian Trappist ales.
STEGMAIER WINTER WARMER (Wilkes-Barre, PA) - 3.0
A clear and attractive amber brown color here, with a solid head of foam in my ale glass. I get scents of biscuits, yeasty, and a little fruit maybe. The taste is bold and malty, with an almost maple syrup followthrough. This heavily sweetened punch seems to hide the relatively high alcohol content (it's 7.2%). Good, but not outstanding.
UPLAND KOMODO DRAGON FLY BLACK IPA (Bloomington, IN) - 4.0
Nice one, here. I dig the cool artwork (a winged Komodo dragon). Pours black as pitch, with a lathery lacing. First off, the nose is rich and floral. Definitely lively and fresh, and definitely in line with a normal IPA. Tasting, however, draws a different conclusion. Sure, there's a strong hops presence, so Komodo brings the staples of an IPA -- bitter and pungent, but it also has a burnt chocolate undertone there, too, like a stout. Wickedly interesting to mash up these two distinct beer styles. Kudos to Upland for a wild left-field creation. Tasty!
BECK'S DARK (Bremen, Germany) - 3.0
Pours dark (but not black) for certain, with solid lacing. Smell is a familiar semi-skunkiness, similar to Beck's lager or Heineken (or St. Pauli Girl lager). Flavor is slightly bitter and skunky, but certainly not bad. Decent and quite drinkable, but not one I'd look for, given a choice.