KATY VS. SASHA: Winter Beard Double Chocolate Cranberry Stout by Muskoka Brewery

Muskoka Winter Beard Double Chocolate Cranberry Stout

 Katy and Sasha are the contributors for Ottawa Beer Events! They have distinctly different palates and in this segment they go head-to-head tasting Muskoka Winter Beard Double Chocolate Cranberry Stout by Muskoka Brewery.


Normally when I review a beer I do it alone without distraction – no music or television – just me and the beer. I'd like to say that I do this so I can sip my beer in quiet contemplation, maybe making a few slurping noises, perhaps a gargle, but really it's because I'm afraid I'll drink it too quickly while watching a Seinfeld rerun.

For Muskoka's Winter Beard I did the opposite. I had guests over at my apartment (helping me with home decor, bribed with pizza) and we were having loud conversations with the TV blaring in the background. Already a few beers in, I pulled out the champagne bottle of stout from the fridge, pried off the cork and poured small samples of the thick oil black liquid.

Deep in conversation, my guests didn't  give much notice to the drink when I served it; I don't think they knew what I was giving them. But as they took their first sips the conversation quieted and the flavours in the glass became the new topic of discussion.

Pouring black with a thin crema head there are deep aromas of dark chocolate, coffee and mulled cranberries. The flavour is rich and seriously indulgent with dark chocolate, roasted malt notes and a sweet cranberry finish. Its dessert-like qualities reminded me of candy – dark chocolate Glosettes or maybe a Cherry Blossom.

This is a wonderful beer that deserves to be shared with friends during the holidays. Be aware though, it tends to be a conversation stopper.

4.5 bottle caps out of 5



Approximately a year ago I tried the Muskoka Winter Beard Double Chocolate Cranberry Stout, expecting it to blow my mind – how could you go wrong with cranberry and dark chocolate? Unfortunately I really didn't enjoy the beer, and expected to pour it out this time around when I heard we were reviewing the Cellar Aged Vintage 2012 edition. 
The beer poured a deep rich brown with a reddish tinge. The head, a thick mocha color, leaving behind a nice lacing on the glass. The chocolaty aroma hit you as soon as you poured, with a hint of spice mixed in.
The first sip fills your palate with dark chocolate flavours, reminding me of the rich 70% chocolate I keep at my desk for afternoon cravings. The tartness from the cranberries soon follows, a perfect balance to the sweetness.
Surprisingly the 8% ABV goes almost undetected in the taste, however if, like me, you decide to enjoy all 750 ml  you'll probably notice the effects. 
So did my palate change in the last year, with all of the new beer I've tried, or has the vintage edition changed the taste so much that I now enjoy it – I don't know but I can tell you that I genuinely think this was a stellar beer and if you can get your hands on one – DO IT!

4.5 bottle caps out of 5


Muskoka Winter Beard Double Chocolate Cranberry Stout is available for a limited time at LCBO locations throughout Ontario, and will retail for $13.95 per 750 ml corked-and-caged bottle.

Muskoka Brewery

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