Winter Beard Double Chocolate Cranberry Stout — Muskoka Brewery

I remember drinking Muskoka Cream Ale at my family’s old cottage outside Bala, in probably 1999-2000.  The beer was nice, and I found it so cool that it was made in Bracebridge.  Then Muskoka kind of went of my radar.  When I got into the craft scene pretty heavy, Muskoka was about to turn over a new leaf.  Re-branding all their packaging and products, launching new products like the epic Mad Tom IPA, and generally moving from the middle of the pack to a yellow-jersey contender.  Seasonal beers became a focus, and far and away, my favourite was their Double Chocolate Cranberry Stout.  I’m a fan of stouts, and they were sourcing their cranberries from my old cottaging stomping grounds.  In addition to that, it was a damn fine beer.  We’ve had kegs and casks of Winter Beard at Castro’s, and every year I get a few bottles around Christmas.  The 2012 vintage is out, and I was surprised to see I had never done a proper review of it.  So it’s on!

Winterbeard Double Chocolate Cranberry Stout — Muskoka Brewery

I was considering my own Winter Beard today, but I really like a good shave.

From a caged and corked 750ml bottle, Winter Beard pours an opaque black, with the slightest traces of brown. A tan frothy 3″ head drops to a fairly dense 1/4″ layer that sticks around and laces the glass well.  Aroma is immediately chocolate and coffee, but with a lovely sharp tang from the cranberries.  There’s some smoke and a hint of rum on the nose too. Taste is more of the same, huge bitter chocolate with a creaminess that almost makes me think there’s lactose added, a la Milk Stout (there’s not, according to the label, though in addition to cocoa powder and nibs, there’s 70% cocoa chocolate, which might be adding to this creaminess).   Cranberries are there, nicely tart and juicy, but are very subtle; the chocolate and malts are forefront, with the tart berries adding a nice extra layer of complexity, without coming across as being a “fruit beer”.  Finish is bitter chocolate, cocoa dry, with traces of the tart cranberry juice. Just lovely.  Mouthfeel is heavy-bodied, with low carbonation and that silky creamy smoothness.  This is a beer to linger by the fire with. Take time and bring a friend along for the ride.  Just a spectacular.

Cheers Muskoka!

Buy Winter Beard Double Chocolate Cranberry Stout

For sale at the LCBO, #222315, as well as the Brewery in Bracebridge, and great beer bars around the province.

Drink It With

A loved one snuggled under an HBC blanket.  Ideally near a fire.  If you find yourself hungry under there, rather than going for the obvious, and eating something with chocolate or cranberries in it, try something that will add another layer of flavours, maybe nuts, so go with a slice of pecan pie or a butter tart.  For cheese, go with a mild chevre.  The tartness of the cheese will bring the cranberries a little more to the front, and the creamy characteristics in both will compliment each other very well.

About The Brewery

Founders Gary McMullen and Kirk Evans kicked the doors of Muskoka Brewery open in June of 1996. What started as a very small and dedicated team has quickly grown to a passionate band of craft beer lovers over 50 strong.

In short, we have a passion for great craft beer and we hope you get a chance to try it and enjoy it.

Don’t be a stranger, Muskoka Brewery calls Bracebridge, Ontario home. Next time you’re in our neck of the woods be sure to swing by and say hello – we love visitors (helps us keep the cabin fever to a minimum). Plus, you can see where all that tasty, handcrafted beer you just enjoyed is brewed.

One Comment

  1. Alley Hamilton
    Posted January 17, 2015 at 9:28 pm | Permalink

    Can this be purchased in New Brunswick or ordered

One Trackback

  • By Harvest Ale — Muskoka Brewery — Toronto Beer Blog on September 25, 2014 at 5:19 pm

    […] was Muskoka’s very first seasonal special offering, now joined by such illustrious beers as Winter Beard, Spring Oddity, and Summer Weisse. My earliest memories of Harvest were less than exciting, but […]

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