DRAFT PICKS: Warming up on a cold winter’s day

Many Americans cringe at the thought of warm beer, but the fact is people have been drinking warm brews a long, long time.

An article published by the North American Brewers Association points out:

“In beer’s previous 100 centuries of history there was no refrigeration, and anyone served a frigid beer would have assumed it was negligently left out in the cold.

“Warm was the only way to drink beer, and it was drunk that way from the beginning. At the dawn of civilization beer was served at ambient temperature, later it was cellared to barely cooled, and for several centuries in between, piping hot was the temperature of choice.

“It was easy to find a hot beer; walking into any tavern from 1500 to the early 1800’s provided ample opportunity. Called “mulled,” which meant heated, it was the fashion of the day, and drinkers lapped it up in staggering quantities. Not only did they prefer their beer hot, they were convinced it was good for them.

“Mulled beer was considered an aid to healthy living. The brief text “Panala Alacatholica” dated 1623, was one of many sources that praised the virtues of warm beer, explaining that it “…doth by its succulencie much nourish and corroborate the Corporall, and comfort the Animall powers.”

So there.

Now, truth be known, I like my beer - be it ale or lager - chilled to just the right temperature to draw out the malty tones and florals.

There is, however, a HUGE difference between unfortunately and unintentionally hot beer, (especially the ‘industrial’ stuff just left out in the sun by mistake), and a calculated offering of carefully created warm ale or lager beverage.

As noted above, there is a great and historical warm beer beverage called “mulled beer” or oftentimes “mulled ale.”

A friend of mine in upstate New York suggested this recipe. I tried it out and, quite frankly, it turned out much better than anything I have experimented with in the past.

Try it. It should be fun.

This recipe is relatively simple and if you find it to your taste could go a long way toward an expanded enjoyment of beer throughout the winter months.

Keep in mind that different styles and tastes of beer will certainly change the taste of the mulled product.

Good luck, and when you find the right balance, invite me over.



  • 12-16 oz quality beer (The contents of your average bottle or can of beer. I would suggest a good, well-balanced American Brown Ale.)
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 pinch ground ginger, or 1 round slice of ginger 1/4 inch long
  • 1 pinch ground nutmeg (NB: I kinda think this is the key “secret” ingredient.)
  • 1-2 pinches cinnamon, or 1 inch section of a cinnamon stick
  • 1 pinch ground cloves or 2-5 whole cloves (I prefer the whole cloves.)
  • 1 tablespoon (honey
  • 1 egg

1.  Put beer in a small saucepan and add spices.

2.  Heat beer and spices in a small saucepan on low to medium-low heat. If the beer begins to boil, turn down the heat. The beer will begin to foam, but should subside after a minute or two.

3.  Separate the egg white from the egg yolk and put in a small bowl. This recipe only uses the egg yolk.

4.  Add two teaspoons of sugar to the egg yolk.

5.  Beat the sugar and yolk with a whisk or fork until it becomes nearly white. Be Careful!

6.  Optional, but highly recommended - “Temper” the yolk mixture. To prevent “scrambling” the egg yolk mixture by the heat of the beer, you can temper the mixture by adding 1-2 tablespoons of the hot beer to the yolk mixture very slowly and mixing thoroughly.

7.  Add the yolk mixture slowly to the warm beer and continue to heat for five minutes. Stir gently.

8.  Add honey to taste.

9. Use a strainer to sieve out any egg pieces that may have formed, if you like. This likely will not have happened if you tempered the yolk mixture before adding it to the beer.

10. Drink and enjoy!

This really isn’t all that difficult, and becomes much more easy as you get used to the process.

I’ll tell you what, (from experience), coming in from a session of raking leaves or shoveling snow and being served a good cup of this brew can be a most welcome seasonal treat.

3 Scrooges Winter Ale Griffin Claw Brewing Co. Birmingham

I really, REALLY enjoyed this obviously seasonal offering.

Pouring the Scrooges brings and crisp, clear cooper colored brew with serious deep red overtones.

The head is aggressive and maintains for quite a while.

Taking a deep dedicated whiff, one is rewarded with a wonderful mixture of malted sweetness, quite a bit of spiciness that is to be expected from a beer of this style, and just a subtle hint of citrus.

Scrooges blends well together — the scenting process offers real promise in the stage to come.

And you will not be disappointed.

Scrooges is packed with maltiness and is delicately, (but not shyly!), flavored with the spices and citrus that were noted in the scenting.


This brew is a taste treat with just a touch of bite from the spiciness. Maybe a hint of pepper at the finish?

This could well be classified as a winter warmer although it is only 6.5 percent ABV.

In the tasting and scenting, there was a lot of good, ol’ fashioned holiday spirit!

I could easily see buying more than one can despite the fact that there is always a glut of holiday releases around Christmas and New Years.

Piercing Pills Dogfish Head Brewery Milton, Del.

This Czech-style Pilsener may be just what you need to serve holiday guests who want a lighter beer, but something a little more artistic at the same time.

Piercing pours a classic golden yellow with a sparse head of foam and just a hint of lacing.

Don’t expect any surprises in this brew. I suspect I’ll overuse the word “classic” while describing what is really a very good beer.

The scenting reveals a classic Pilsener smell - hints of floral, well-defined hops, just a touch of citrus, (young lemon, or possibly lime.) There is nothing that is going to smack you in the nose, but the brew is refreshing in it’s simplicity.

There is a good blast of hop from the get-go. Then, following, a wash around the mouth one can really feel the gentle maltiness — a touch sweet on the backside.

There is pear juice used in the brewing process. I could feel a hint of the pear, but nothing that interfered with a good, ol’ fashioned “classic.”

Piercing was smooth, crisp and clear, and quite enjoyable in a most round-about way.

I think a lot of beer novices will really enjoy this beer - and veteran tasters as well.

It is to-the-point, and not at all pretentious.