In the modern craft beer, when you think of a winter beer you think of something like the St. Bernardus Christmas Ale or the Thirsty Dog 12 Dogs of Christmas. It is a beer that is a lot. A lot of alcohol, a lot of “winter” spices, a lot of sugar. However, one of the original winter beer is the simple Old Ale.
The Old Ale is an aged, referred to as “stale” back in the day, beer with a higher ABV. It is a beer that should warm you as you drink it on a long winter night either by a fire or cuddled next to the one you love.
The Fortnight Vintage Ale 2016 is a great example of an old ale. Clocking in at a nice 9.2% ABV, this amber beer provides a good warming feeling as you enjoy it.
It pours a nice hazy dark amber color and shows a good amount of carbonation. The head is off-white and holds itself well.
The Vintage has a nice aroma. It is all dark fruit, molasses, and caramel. There isn’t much hop presence on the aroma however, there is a little leather and oxidation, which is to be expected from an intentionally aged beer.
Once you taste it, you notice the alcohol. It isn’t overwhelming, but it is present and noticeable. There is a little bitterness coming from the hops. Not a real hop flavor, but just the bitterness to add a little balance to the sweetness. That sweetness is dark fruit, molasses, and caramel. It isn’t cloying sweetness, but a well-balanced sweetness that makes you think of cookies. You also get a little leather and oxidation, but again in just the right amount to be expected.
There is still a good amount of carbonation in the beer. It also nicely attenuated staying relatively light on the palate as well as a nice dry finish. This is a big beer that is easy drinking and smooth.
For food pairings, you should go with something big like roasted beef or lamb. If you wanted to go with a dessert, I would try something creamy, but sweet like cheesecake with a cherry glaze.