Mush! Mush!


Point your dog team to this beer

Lead Dog Ale
Yukon Brewing, Whitehorse, Yukon
$13.99 for A six pack

Winter is coming. There is nothing we can do about it. All we can do is steel ourselves and maybe pack provisions. My winter stash will definitely include beer that is appropriate for sipping during those cold winter nights. There are many beers that are well suited for winter, and over the next few months I will try to highlight a few. I thought I would start with a beer from a place that really knows a thing or two about winter.

Yukon Brewing is a 12-year-old brewing upstart with a lot of nerve. They brew in a remote, climate-challenged town of 20,000 and dare to do it with quality and style. Their beers are original and unquestioningly well-made.

This is not just my opinion—international panels agree. Yukon’s winter offering, a take on an English old ale, was the first Canadian beer ever to be invited to the JDW Festival in England, a respected real ale event that invites international brewers to brew versions of their beer in England and test them head-to-head. Not only did Yukon show up, they won the gold medal!

So, it seems appropriate when talking about winter beers to discuss first an international medal winner. The beer in question is Lead Dog Ale.  It pours a deep, dark brown with rich mahogany highlights. The light tan head is thin, but that is okay for this lightly carbonated style.

The aroma is a lovely blend of chocolate, rich caramel, toffee and dark fruit aromas of raisin, plum and cherry. In the taste, the sweetness starts delicate but builds as the beer moves across your tongue. Before it gets too sweet, a dry, light roastiness kicks in to balance the beer off. The soft roast lingers in the aftertaste.

The beer is quite warming, with a touch of alcohol noticeable. This is not surprising given that the beer is seven percent alcohol, which is a good thing for a winter beer. The higher alcohol content spreads through your body to cut the winter cold in your fingers and toes. A winter beer is appropriately higher in alcohol, making it more suitable for sipping while cuddled up in a blanket.

When I first tried this beer a few years back, I enjoyed it but moved on quickly. However, I have found myself coming back to it repeatedly, and at each sampling I appreciate it more. Now I feel this beer has an impressive mix of accessibility and rich, winter ale heartiness. It has enough going on to feel substantial, yet it is not cloying or too heavy for someone newly exploring beer.

If you need a bulwark against the winter snow, consider stocking your fridge with Lead Dog. I don’t thnk you will be disappointed. V

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