Thursday, January 26, 2012

Pyramid Snow Cap Winter Warmer

As January nears its end, the winter warmer season is winding down. It’s soon time to start thinking about, gasp, spring beers! But I’ve got one last winter ale post for you. Pyramid has been in the beer-making business for 28 years – practically an eternity in craft brewing terms. And the Snow Cap, with good reason, is one of their best known beers. This warmer is different from the typical winter seasonal in that it’s crafted in the English style. And I sure do love my English beers! Notes of caramel, chocolate, burnt fruit, and roasted grain provide the main thrust of flavor, but there are plenty of Nugget, Willamette, and East Kent Goldings hops for balance and a crisp finish. And at seven percent ABV, the alcohol content is just right for a “warming” effect. While a lot of winter ales come off tasting “thin”, the mouthfeel on the Snow Cap is fuller and creamier (perhaps not stout creamy, but creamy nonetheless). All in all, this is what a winter ale should be. It’s smooth, balanced, and delicious. The flavor, while on the malty side, is no slouch in the hop department (47 IBUs). If beer geeks describe it as “solid” but “not extraordinary”, that’s hardly an insult. We’re talking about winter warmers. They’re supposed to be solid but not extraordinary. This might not be a “sexy” sub-genre of craft brewing, but in my book the best microbrewers are the ones that can make tasty versions of unassuming styles. From hereon out, I’m stocking up on Snow Cap every winter. It makes my short list of essential cold weather seasonals.

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