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Bell’s Winter White Ale

Where in Town: Metro Liquors, 1726 Columbia Road NW

Price: $8.99/six-pack

’Tis the Season

Now that we’ve moved from sweater weather to ugly sweater season, it’s time to call on the warming power of winter ales. That used to mean something super-sweet, spiced to the nines, and strong enough to put hair on your chest. But these days, winter brews come in a plethora of shapes and sizes. In addition to the usual strong English and Belgian-style beers named for the holidays (think Santa, Elf, Noel), breweries have expanded their winter seasonal selections to include hoppy imperial reds, wheat IPAs, and the occasional low-alcohol beer with just a hint of holiday spirit.

The Spice Is Right

Take Bell’s Winter White. One of my favorite seasonals from the Michigan brewery, the unfiltered witbier is brewed with Belgian yeast and a blend of barley and wheat malts. The beer contains no spices but nevertheless carries a clove-like taste, resulting from the yeast, which also lends banana aromas and flavors. Winter White finishes sweet, with a suggestion of angel food cake. It’s a mild winter beer for people whose palates need a refreshing break from more potent seasonal brews. Flavorful despite its low alcohol content (only 5 percent), Winter White makes a good substitute for warm cider with your holiday cookies, though I don’t recommend dunking.

Photo by Tammy Tuck