By Malia Paasch
When the holidays roll around, my mind turns to seasonal dinners and all the interesting dessert beers we can pair with that final course. The offerings can range from intense candy-like sweetness to more subtle flavors that blend well with a rich dessert.
There are several ways brewers create these decadent beers; one of the simplest is to add grains or roasted malt. The longer grains are roasted, the more color and sweetness they contribute to the finished product. This process gives stouts and porters their iconic dark color and notes of caramel, coffee bitterness and occasionally, dark fruit flavors.
Another option is to add the flavor ingredient directly to the mash when brewing. This can be done with nuts, fresh fruits or crushed cacao nibs. Ingredients too delicate to boil can also be added afterward in a tea bag form that’s steeped into the beer.
Stick with beers that use natural ingredients and treat yourself to something delicious this holiday season. Cheers!
Abita Brewing Company
Appearance: Golden amber with a persistent ivory head.
Aroma: Notes of caramel, grain and molasses.
Taste: Amber, with a nutty finish and hints of honey.
Mouthfeel: Crisp and refreshing.
Drinkability: This is a great selection for someone looking for a more malty beer to pair with a dessert, but that won’t compete with its sweetness.
Food pairing: Pecan pie, of course!
Alewerks Brewing Company
Appearance: Dark brown with a light brown head.
Aroma: Notes of chocolate, hot cocoa and roasted coffee.
Taste: The flavor is reminiscent of a Black Forest cake with hints of black cherry and chocolate.
Mouthfeel: Prickly with medium carbonation.
Drinkability: Not syrupy and sweet. It has a nice balance that makes it easy to drink on its own or with a pairing.
Food pairing: Chocolate birthday cake macarons.
Steam Bell Beer Works
Appearance: Opaque dark brown with a tan diminishing head.
Aroma: Earthy with hints of bread, rum and chocolate.
Taste: Robust with notes of coffee, vanilla, coconut and rum.
Mouthfeel: Velvety with a slight bitter linger.
Drinkability: Very smooth with a bit of a bite, just like a serving of tiramisu with a hearty amount of cognac.
Food pairing: Make this one into an ice cream float.
German Chocolate Cake Bourbon Barrel-aged Lager
Lickinghole Creek Craft Brewery
Appearance: Dark ruby brown with a light cream head.
Aroma: Notes of pina colada and coke Slurpee.
Taste: Full of coconuts and chocolate with a brown sugar, silky finish.
Mouthfeel: Smooth and clean, yet flavorful.
Drinkability: One doesn’t always think of lagers as dessert beers, but this doppelbock takes the cake.
Food pairing: Coconut cake or traditional cheesecake.