Winter Warming Ales 

I've lived in Boise for more than 30 years and, while I remember colder temperatures, I can't recall a time when we had so many days of clouds, snow and bone chilling cold. It's time to break out a few bigger brews with enough octane to combat this dreary weather.

North Coast Old Stock Ale, 2016, $3.50-$4.30

Weighing in at 11.8 percent alcohol by volume, the lightly sour malt aromas on this amber-tinged pour are complemented by caramel, fig, a touch of leather and a light booziness. There's a lot going on on the palate, where dark chocolate, toasted malt, vanilla and sweet sherry are backed by a pleasant bit of heat. Very light hops come through on the finish.

Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine-Style Ale, 2017, $2.50-$3

A thin, off-white head tops this chestnut-colored brew. The aromas are a mix of sweet caramel malt and resiny hops. At 9.6 abv, it's on the lighter side of the barleywine style but what it lacks in heat, it makes up for in heady hops. The malt flavors are on the dry side, colored by a heavy hit of pine laced hops, along with spice and bitter sweet dark chocolate.

Woodland Empire Chapter 3, Burning Bright English-Style Old Ale, $7-$8

The Boise brewery celebrates its third anniversary with this bomber of ebony colored ale topped by a thin, porous head. Sweet malt and molasses aromas dominate, along with soft fruit and toffee. This is an impeccably balanced winter warmer with creamy caramel playing against light hops. Despite the 9 percent abv, there's a nice bit of booze on the finish. This is an impressive effort by the home team.

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