A poke around the beer aisles will turn up plenty of winter ales and spiced winter warmers - as well a plenty of traditional stouts and porters.
Amid the seasonal labels is a new pair of year-round beers that are adopted cousins of ales from the Emerald Isle.
Strangford Brewing Co. has released St. Patrick's Best and Legbiter ales in Georgia markets. These Irish ales have roots in Ireland - which seriously tweaks the beer geeks but the resulting carries plenty of authentic influence.
You see, the beer is finished in the U.S. Wort, the combination of water and grain left after mashing (oversimplified, the conversion of grain starches to sugar), for the beers is made in Ireland and shipped to contractor partners in the U.S., where the brewing process is finished and beer is sent to market.
Some beer fanatics find this process somewhat deceptive - but you'll be hard pressed to find a review that trashes these beers. "Born in Ireland. Matured in the U.S.," is more how the SLBC folks like to think of it.
I seek out Irish ales - and found these to be nicely competitive. St. Patrick's Best Ale is light and refreshing on the palate with Irish malt and traditional hop aroma. It's a smooth, slightly caramel-sweet beer that goes down easy at 4.2 ABV.
Legbiter Ale is a bit bolder, as its name (a reference to King Magnus' sword) implies. It pours brilliant golden with decidedly more hops - thanks to doses of Cascade and Glacier hops. The lighter malt aromas carry through to the palate for full, refreshing flavor - with a hint of bitterness on the finish and gentle 4.8 ABV.
I also took care to over-chill these beers. Bold flavored beer is like wine - serving it too cold can kill flavors.
More varieties are coming soon, including a wheat beer and a dark ale.
Olde English Beer Dinner
For a taste of English beers with a lineage that reaches back to 1758, join me as I host an Olde English Beer Dinner at Ruth's Chris Steak House.
I'll be pouring a selection of beers from Tadcaster, North Yorkshire, England's Samuel Smith Brewery. This brewery's entire line is among my favorite Old World beers.
We'll sample five beers: Winter Welcome, Pale Ale, Nut Brown Ale, Stingo (Only one of two beers to earn a score of 100 points from Draft magazine) and Oatmeal Stout.
The $40 price tag includes a hearty supper from Chef Cody Buford: French Onion soup, a cheese course, petite filet with fall vegetables and bread pudding.
In the interest of full disclosure, I have no financial stake - only the love of getting good food and drink in front of readers like you.
Call for reservations, 721-4800. Heck, we might even sing a Christmas carol or two!