Hiver one or the other

Dieu du Ciel! “Solstice d’hiver” (Québec) – Way, way, way back in college, I discovered that there were beers other than the mass-market dreck I’d…um, seen other people drink in high school, but of course wouldn’t myself because that would have been wrong. Ahem. Anyway, one thing led to another, and after college I was much entertained by bars with over a hundred taps and 400 bottles of the world’s many expressions and variations on beer. I remember the seemingly innumerable styles I liked right away, but I also remember the first exotic brew I hated: a burnt toffee-like concoction, syrupy and balsamic, that I learned was a Christmastime specialty of the brewery in question. Since then, I’ve learned that while I can appreciate light-toned winter ales (Long Trail’s version provided many, many cases of happiness), the dark, Euro-historical versions are just too much for me. This isn’t nearly as dense as that first dark-hearted monster, but it’s more than I can enjoy: sticky, a little charred, syrupy without letup. And yet, hollow and thin. Yes, that’s quite an accomplishment. I go on at this length to say that I’m perfectly willing to accept that this is much more about me than it is about the brew’s qualities, which might be more appreciated by others. (9/11)

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