Here’s the thing about winter seasonals: They can get a bit annoying after a while. No disrespect, I love me some super sweet stout brewed with “holiday spices,” but by mid January, I’m a bit “holiday spiced” out. There are still a couple of bottles of holiday seasonals in the back of the fridge, hanging out way longer than they should, like my neighbor’s Christmas lights. So I was a bit hesitant when a buddy picked up a sixer of Catawba Brewing’s King Winterbolt Winter Ale. Really? Another winter beer? Whatever.
We popped the tops on the backend of a night ski sesh (or “session,” if you’re not into the whole brevity thing), our beards thick with ice from the vicious snow guns that plague our local resort. It’s a dark beer, and I expected the standard overly sweet seasonal fare, but King Winterbolt hit me with a surprising layer of hops. The beer still has a pleasant roasted coffee character that gives it a solid backbone (what would a winter beer be without a bit of malted sweetness), but there’s a healthy dose of Cascade and Sorachi hops that gives the beer more of an IPA bitterness and spice. This is kind of like a transitional beer—a brew with one foot in the holiday past and one foot heading toward spring.
And of course, King Winterbolt adheres to the most important style guideline of winter seasonals: higher alcohol content. The cans are 7%–not exactly high gravity, but it does the job, and provides a bit of warmth, particularly after spending two hours under the snow guns.
The best part about King Winterbolt, though, is that it’s named after the villain in the often-overlooked Rudolph and Frosty’s Christmas In July. This is the movie where we learn Rudolph’s origin story, and how he got that awesome nose. Oh yeah.