It’s the Most Wonderful Time for a Beer


There are a great many aspects of winter that I could do without. Snow, ice, shoveling, frigid temperatures, torturous commutes – these are a few of my least favorite things. But if winter has one redeeming quality, it’s that the season inspires some incredible beer. I love beers that are made to stand up to the elements or to complement the flavors of a holiday feast. It’s the season for porters and stouts, holiday spices, and strong ales that can take the chill out of your bones. So I was pretty happy when the good folks at Peak Organic surprised me with a sampler of their seasonal offerings. Each of these beers has a different character, and all of them demonstrate the Portland, Maine brewery’s dedication to quality, innovation, and sustainability.

The Peak Maple Collaboration

Made with organic oats grown in Maine and organic maple syrup made in Vermont, this limited-release beer is a welcome treat on a crisp night in late autumn. I was expecting a heavy blast of sweetness from the syrup, but the maple flavor is actually kind of subtle. I get notes of caramel and toffee, and the oats give it a nice mouth feel. Peak Organic works with local farmers and small business to produce this beer, and its sales support Chefs Collaborative, a nonprofit network that promotes sustainable culinary practices.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Winter Session Ale

I had the pleasure of meeting Peak Organic Founder and President Jon Cadoux earlier this year, and I made a point of telling him that the Peak Winter Session Ale has always been one of my favorite winter brews. He thanked me, laughed, and said something to the effect of, “we needed a beer for the hop-heads to drink in the winter.” I’ve never really thought of myself as a “hop-head,” but when he said that, it occurred to me that many winter beers tend to be heavy on malt, or they go the holiday route and feature spices like cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg.

Peak’s Winter Session combats the cold weather with hops. It’s single- and dry-hopped with Citra hops, which add an unexpected note of pineapple. But it’s still got a nice, toasty maltiness and a dark amber hue. Some might quibble with this being called a “session beer,” given its 5% ABV. But you won’t hear me complaining. It’s a balanced, drinkable brew that’ll fortify you against winter’s chill.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Holiday Saison

But if you must have holiday spices in your beer, the Holiday Saison’s got you covered. Peak Organic doesn’t identify its spice mix, but I get notes of ginger, clove, and cinnamon.

This is an unusual beer. It’s considerably darker than the typical saison, and I don’t think I’ve ever had a saison with a bouquet of spices. But it’s an interesting beer, and while I’ve never been a huge fan of Belgian-style beers, I liked trying to identify the flavors in every sip. Also, the spices aren’t in your face; I’ve had holiday beers that overdo the spicy components, and the Holiday Saison is comparatively milder.

We may be having an uncommonly warm December, but these hearty beers still hit the spot on a dark, cozy night.

As I mentioned above, these beers were part of a complimentary sample set given to me by someone who works for Peak Organic. I was not asked or expected to write about them. All opinions are, as ever, my own.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Copyright © Boston BarHopper. All Rights Reserved.