17 Jan 5 of the best beers for sharing with your buds, according to Muskoka’s Shannon Mulligan
If you’re like me, as soon as the thermometer hits the negative numbers, you turn into a bear (grizzly, brown bear, black bear, you do you) and immediately hibernate until the sun is out for longer than four hours a day. I remedy this the only way I know how: I invite people to my house for free beer and everyone’s all, “Well if Shannon’s serving free beer, I’d better bring a homemade cake or three to show my gratitude!” And guys: I love cake.
Here are some of my favourite beers for sharing with pals during our long Canadian winters. When sharing brews, high ABV, rich flavoured beers are a great fit. So, like your high school guidance counsellor told you, dream big.
1) Muskoka Winter Beard Double Chocolate Cranberry Stout: You just can’t beat this beautiful beer for splitting amongst friends. At 8%, it’s a higher alcohol stout, and the chocolate (we use the good stuff) is so rich and delicious. Our 2016 batch is one of my favourites – and as a bonus, you can age this bad boy for years to come. At our brewery right now, we’ve got batches from 2014, 2015 and 2016. You can open one from each of the three years and do a vertical tasting.
2) Great Lakes Brewery Harry Porter and the Bourbon-Soaked Vanilla Bean: If you don’t believe in magic, you haven’t tried this 6.5% American style porter. It pairs well with chocolate cake, brownies and a screening party of all eight Harry Potter films. Note: This version of Harry Porter isn’t a full-time listing, so if you see it, snag it. If you don’t have kinetic magical powers, the base for this beer, Harry Porter, will do juuust fine.
3) MacKinnon Brothers Harvest Ale: While you’re sharing beers with pals, why not have a beer made by brothers who share their family farm? Located just outside Kingston, Ont., MacKinnon Brothers has created an extremely tasty beer using ingredients exclusively grown on their 230-year-old family farm. No big deal. Available for take-home purchase solely at the brewery, make sure to wear your work boots and pick up a growler. You won’t be sorry.
4) Muskoka Twice As Mad Tom IPA: Even though it’s a smaller serving size (tall can), Twice As Mad Tom is just enough that you can split it with a buddy (or keep it for yourself, I’m not your mom). Because it’s an 8.4% Imperial IPA, sharing lets you sample more beers while still keeping functional. The higher alcohol in this beer makes it a little more warming, a little smoother and a little less hoppy than Mad Tom. Think an after-dinner beverage similar to a cognac or an aperitif.
5) Left Field Brewery Sweet Jesus Mocha Marshmallow Stout: Coming in at 6.2%, this sweet little number is brewed in collaboration with Sweet Jesus, that crazy ice cream store that was all over your Instagram feed last summer. In a nice 650mL bottle, it’s great for a night in. I approve of any beer that encourages the eating of marshmallows.
Please Note: Not all of these beers are available year-round, or at the LCBO or Beer Store. You might have to play the waiting game and make a road trip or two, but trust me, it’ll be worth it