And just like that, it’s time to bust out the Stokies and strike up the old, ‘this is going to be the coldest Winter ever’ conversation because the season is turning. A lot of people usually lament the coming of winter but I couldn’t be happier. I am a huge fan of dark beer season and this time of year also sees the return of many an awesome seasonal brew.
Let’s jump in and see what we find.
Woodstock Brewery – Lady of the Night Vanilla Porter
Woodstock’s seasonal porter returns for a third year and if you’ve never had one then do yourself a favour. It’s a rich, full-bodied porter that’s spiked with vanilla. It’s packed with roasted malt flavours with everything from dark chocolate and coffee to hints of smokiness and vanilla sweetness. If you happen to be in Cape Town on the 1st of June you can catch the launch party at the brewery taproom.
Darling Brew – Black Mist Orange Black
Mist has been one of my favourite Darling beers for ages but this orange version takes things up a notch. It’s a complex porter with tons of roasted character featuring mocha, chocolate, caramel with a hint of liquorice and now added orange zest. I was a little hesitant about the orange but one sip in and my palate had an aha moment. The orange cuts through all the hefty dark layers and ends with a snappy citrus finish. If you’re a fan of orange chocolate then this is your new go-to Winter brew.
Aegir Project Wee Heavy 90 Shilling
Before we get into this one and I tell you just how epic it is, it comes with a disclaimer. You can only get it on tap at Aegir’s taprooms in Cape Town but man is it worth the trip. It’s one of the best seasonal beers around and I’ve been a fan since day one. It’s a Scottish ale and it’s all about chewy, biscuit malt with complex layers of dark fruits, burnt sugar, treacle and sultanas. It’s hearty, warming and when it runs out it’s gone until next year.
Saggy Stone Dark Horse
As the name suggests, there’s more to this dark beer than meets the eye. It’s actually one of the few black lagers in South Africa and it makes for an interesting drinking experience. It has all the layered chocolate and coffee flavours of a stout but it is light in body and finishes clean and crisp. It’s surprisingly refreshing and it will keep you coming back sip after sip.
Mardesous Brune/Bruin The first sip I ever had on this beer simple blew me away. It is big, like really big and not just in alcohol at 8%. Its flavour profile is massive. It comes from a long line of Belgian monastic tradition and it is an accredited abbey beer. It was originally brewed as a cold weather Christmas beer and it’s bursting with dark fruit, caramel, chocolate and spice. Save this one for a comfortable chair and an extra cold winter night.