Love beer? Here are four beers that will keep you warm this winter

By Guest Writer Matthew James

When Travel Mammal founder Jim Bamboulis asked me to feature fantastic winter beers, it didn’t take much convincing—I love beer!

So here is my take on four beers I’ve enjoyed since I first tried them in the fall and will continue to enjoy throughout the winter. If you love beer or even want to try something a bit different then consider trying these four right now.

Banana Bread Beer | Wells Brewing | United Kingdom |5.2% ABV | 18 IBU

Screen Shot 2016-01-05 at 10.25.30 AMThis isn’t my first go at this delightful English fruit ale. I discovered it at a random bottle shop in  Ireland in September 2012. The label features a pint glass coming out of a peeled banana. I enjoy real banana flavour, so the label instantly caught my attention and piqued my interest.


The colour lies between an amber and copper with veiled clarity. The head is thin, but not in a bad way. My glands salivating in anticipation of the first sip.


The prominent note is certainly banana followed by inviting notes of toffee and soft bread. The hop aromas consist of a very gentle spice.


As Minions would say—Ba-na-na! I love it and could breathe that in all day. It’s so fresh thanks to Wells’ use of fair trade bananas. But considering the next ingredient is banana flavour, the flavour itself isn’t as pure as it could be. Sure, it’s favourably strong and on the sweeter side but it tastes like a beer and the more I drink it, the drier the beer becomes on the finish.

The malt aromas are sweet with notes of caramel and toffee. A little spice from the hops rounds this beer out beautifully.

Mouthfeel and Finish

The medium body has lively carbonation and a slightly drying sensation. The refreshing finish remains just the right length.

For people to give this beer a fair chance, it helps to at least like the flavour of banana—remember, there is no banana texture. Depending on the situation, this beer is great as a starter, night-cap, or even with a caramel or banana-dominant dessert. The other fun thing about this beer is that it can be enjoyed in the summer sun, around the fireplace in the dead of winter or anywhere in between.

Black India Pale Ale  | Big Rig Brewing | Alberta | 6.2% ABV | IBU unknown

Screen Shot 2016-01-05 at 10.23.11 AMThis was a random pick off the LCBO shelf, but I wanted to add a strong ale to the mix and that’s what I got.


The big, foamy bubbles of the head complete this very flavourful black India Pale Ale.


Intense malt aromas of coffee and chocolate jump out of this beer and it leans to the right, closer to bitter in balance.


A strong, almost stout-like IPA. With bread, toast and toffee with spicy hops.

Mouthfeel and Finish

Just under medium body, the warming, mouth-coating sensations linger thanks to lower carbonation. The finish is long and strong. This is a fun one-off beer, very strong for just 6.2% ABV.

Lions Winter Ale |  Grandville Island | Vancouver Island | 5.5% ABV |  Low IBU

Screen Shot 2016-01-05 at 10.20.32 AMAppearance

A little darker than copper (red-orange hue), this blurry beer has a tiny bubbles with a thinner head.


The scents of vanilla and cocoa really stand out through my schnoz. It smells like a fresh winters day.


The flavour intensity of this beer is fantastic; my palate really hones in on the slight, sweet vanilla and  delicate cocoa. Honestly, when I drink this beer, it makes me feel like I’m enjoying a timeout during a game of pond hockey or I’m sitting around an outdoor winter campfire. It’s so comforting!

Mouthfeel and Finish

The medium-body and low carbonation of this winter ale is warming and has a nice, frothy finish.

Nutcracker Porter | Black Oak Brewing | Oakville, Ontario | 5.8% | ABV |

Screen Shot 2016-01-05 at 10.16.54 AMAppearance

A fairly thick viscosity and as black as the night sky, the appearance of this beer looks so inviting this time of year. The head poured tanned and thin.


The cinnamon sticks that were added to this brew are apparent on the nose.


A good balance of roasted malts, chocolate, light coffee, and very light cherry. Boozier than I originally thought.

Mouthfeel and Finish

Quite rich, creamy and smooth with a finish that will last as longer as this winter!

There you go. Four winter beers I love and I hope you’ll enjoy as well. Did I miss one? Do you have a beer that you enjoy during the coldest months of the year? Get in touch and let us know!


About Matt

As a young boy, Matthew’s love for travel began early, when he and his family packed up the family van and drove coast to coast across back-to-back summers!

Today, he continues to explore what the rest of the world has to offer. His real desire to travel and explore was solidified on his first unchaperoned flight across the Atlantic, visiting his brother in jolly old England at the age of 18. Three years later, Matthew acquired his first working-holiday visa for Australia and another two years later, another for the United Kingdom. With 17 countries now stamped on his passports, Matthew enjoys seeing the excitement in others from his own adventures.

Matthew recently began working in the beer industry for Cameron’s Brewing Co. and when he’s not pounding the pavement in downtown Toronto trying to get on tap, you can find him playing pool, socializing with friends or taking in a Jays game.


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