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Friday, December 7, 2007

Bountiful Box of Beer at my Door: OCB Winter Warmers

I love getting presents, so try to visualize my excitement when a box of beer showed up on my doorstep today. I bet the neighbours thought that I was trying to do my best 'Tom Cruise I love Katie Holmes' Oprah speech. Well, I didn't go that far but I sure was happy.

The box was an early Christmas gift from the good folks at the Ontario Craft Brewers Association who have just released their Winter Warmers for the 2007 holiday season. I opened the box quicker than the Maple Leafs give up third period leads (I'm still a believer) and quickly pulled each bottle out. There were eight beers in total ranging from bomber sized bottles to a ceramic bottle to the standard 341ml bottles.

They included:
Great Lakes Brewery Winter Ale
Mill Street Barley Wine
King Brewery Dark Lager
Cameron's Dark 266
Wellington County Dark Ale
Old Credit Holiday Honey
Trafalgar Brewing Co. Abbey Belgian Spice Ale
Heritage Brewing Black Current Rye

Inside the box, included with the beer, were some recipes for each brew. I wish I was a better cook because these recipes include lamb, venison, braised beef short ribs and fruitcake and I don't think I trust myself preparing them for visitors. Yet, the OCB has done a nice job pairing the selected beer with food that will complement each other nicely, aiming it at the wine crowd. Wine producers have done a great job over the years convincing consumers that wine and food go together better than any other combination. Well, over the last number of years more and more pubs and restaurants are popping up offering customers 'beer dinners' where they can dine on a four or five course meal while sampling different beer along the way. Beer is so versatile that it can be matched up with almost any food and cudo's to the OCB for focusing their efforts on this for the upcoming holiday season.

So, back to the beer. Also included in the box were tasting notes for each beer along with a little bit of fun facts about the breweries and their holiday customs. Mike Laba from Cameron's says "We dress our brew master up like Rudolph and make him pull the rest of the staff in a sleigh around town while we give away beer. We don't currently do this, but I think I'm onto something..."

I have tried a number of these beers before and enjoyed them all. I look forward to testing the one's that are new to me with family and friends closer to the holiday season. I am by no means a beer expert and I don't possess a magnificent palate, but I do tend to think of myself as a good judge of character so in the coming weeks I will profile some of these beers and add comments from my tasting notes. One beer that I wished to see included in the box was Black Oak's Nutcracker Porter, which would have made a nice addition to the package. So did Stephen Beaumont over at his blog, who has reviewed each beer in the pack, but beggars can't be choosers. So stay tuned in the next couple of days-weeks as I get around to enjoying each beer the OCB (thanks Nic) has graciously provided.


Check out the OCB's website at for more information on their winter warmers, recipes and tips on how to host guests this holiday season.

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