Feb. 8, 2014 at 9:51 AM ET
If you’ll be checking out Winter Olympics, why not warm things up with a hearty beer? And not just any brew – check out these five World Beer Cup gold-medal winning beers, one for each ring in the Olympic logo. Any one of them will make a great companion for watching Olympic dreams come true.
G’Knight from Oskar Blues Brewery in Longmont, Colo., is a chest-warming 8.7 percent ABV Imperial Red Ale that pours a rich golden-red. G’Knight is as balanced as a figure skater spinning on the tip of her skate, with a floral pine hop profile whirling gracefully around a thick and sweet caramel malt backbone. Zesty notes of grapefruit and tangerine are at play as well, as are spicy hints of dark fruit and biscuits. Overall, G’night is a big beer that’s surprisingly graceful on its feet.
At 6.6 percent ABV, Sierra Nevada Ruthless RyeIPA won’t warm you with its alcohol content, but it also won’t have you doing a header over the coffee table and feeling the agony of defeat. This IPA is a spicy treat, with the rye in its grain bill adding a peppery playfulness to an already wonderful blend of juicy malts and herbal hops. The hop profile is a bit subdued for an India Pale Ale, which allows the rye room to work its tasty magic, creating a complex, unique and warm winter treat.
While freestyle skiers are finesse players, other Olympians are more forthright, like the boys on the hockey team. Hoppin’ Frog Brewing Co’sBarrel Aged BORIS The Crusher Oatmeal-Imperial Stout takes the latter approach, checking your taste buds into the boards with huge flavors of vanilla, cocoa, dark fruit, espresso and oak. There’s also a touch of whiskey from the barrel aging, but the beer never slips out of balance – no one’s going to send dear BORIS to the penalty box for being too boozy. Still, this is a big character beer, and at 9.4 percent ABV, it’ll keep you warm from the inside out.
If you’re one of those weirdos who love the cold (looking at you, Mom), then you’re not searching for a beer to warm you up – you just want something that’ll tickle your taste buds. Look no further than Allagash White, a 5 percent ABV Witbier that blends a citrus spiciness with a smooth wheat body. Zesty notes of coriander, orange rind, pear and white pepper mix with subtle tastes of banana and grains, along with just hint of funk from the beer’s perfectly chosen strain of Belgian yeast. Allagash White is so well made and such a perfect example of its style, even the Russian judge gives it a 10.
Perhaps you’re looking for a beer with a bit more oomph. Ommegang Rare Vos features some of the same spicy Belgian charm, and at 6.5 percent ABV, it packs a bit more of a punch under its cork. Candied malts serve as the foundation for a structure of citrus and spice – lemon, orange and apricots meet tastes of pepper, coriander and grains of paradise, with a small but noticeable blossom of warming booze on the tail end of the flavor. After the malt sweetness fades, a floral hop bitterness lingers on the palate, cleansing it for the next tasty sip, like a Zamboni for your taste buds.
Each of these fine beers are champions in their own right, earning gold at the World Beer Cup. Of course just as great athletes are always looking for their next chance at glory, brewers from around the world are busy preparing their submissions for the next World Beer Cup, which takes place this April in Denver, Colorado.
But before that happens, we have a full slate of winter sporting spectacle to enjoy. So grab a beer, hit the couch and snuggle up under your electric blanket. Because while it’s always fun to tune into the Olympics, it’s too cold to watch people playing in the snow without a little extra warmth, both inside and out.
Enjoy the games!