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Dark Nights, Darker Beers

Well, it finally happened. I’m ready to admit that it’s cold outside. Much like my father (and everyone else’s), I’ve been reluctant to touch the thermostat. However, damn it; it’s December, and it’s hard to write whilst buried under blankets. You might say, “Get yourself a BEER blanket. Duh!” And you’ll think you’re super clever. Let’s talk about that (beer blankets, not your hacky humor)…and not just because I’m twelve steps ahead of you.

The days aren’t technically shorter this time of year, but with not a whole lot of sunshine to go around, they certainly feel that way. Accordingly, we tend to associate the darkest time of year with the darkest of beers. But do our palates really change throughout the seasons? Or do we just like whatever the corporate conglomerates tell us to like? You’ve probably realized that since I’m writing about it, the answer is not so simple.

The seasonality of beers, historically, has been determined by the availability of ingredients, and in some cases, local laws. For example, märzens are associated with Oktoberfest. März is German for “March,” which was when the beer was traditionally brewed. A 16th-century Bavarian law forbade the brewing of beer between the end of April and the end of September. Therefore, a nice brown, malty märzen was the default beer for annual Oktoberfest shenanigans.

More recently, our tastes are informed mostly by our perceptions and activities. We tend to drink lighter beers in the summer because we crave beverages that are refreshing. Since we’re spending so much time outside, we don’t want too much alcohol to put a damper on all of that sun-soaked frolicking.

Meanwhile, in winter, we’re cold, and we’re stuck inside. We have more time to appreciate the complexity of a darker, heavier beer, and we’re more open to the potential booziness of such brews. Alcohol doesn’t actually make our bodies warmer, but because it’s a vasodilator, our blood vessels widen and we perceive more warmth throughout our bodies.

A false sense of warmth and idle time inside with friends and family mean winter is the perfect time of year to bust open a bung and imbibe in a barrel-aged beer. As I covered in my last post, the changing of the seasons is perfect for aging beer, and arguably why it’s best in the winter.

You can beat the winter blues with barrel-aged, barrel-fermented, and other seasonally appropriate brews with your friends and colleagues alike on a BREWVANA Holiday Dinner Tour experience.

Von Ebert brewed a special beer just for our BREWVANA! Meet the VEB HOLIDAY LAGER – Small batch Dark German Lager with cinnamon, nutmeg, and coriander! At 4.6% Alc. with 25 IBUs this limited release from Von Ebert Brewing is available only on our BREWVANA Holiday Dinner Tour!