Cervezas de invierno: la bebida del solsticio - Beer Sapiens

These cold days are a good time to savor a winter beer, those beers that warm you up inside and usually accompany you in calmer and more relaxed moments. And also, at this time of year, breweries often release special editions of Christmas beers, with strong and spicy flavors and with typical designs for these holidays.

What you may not know, my friend beersapiens, is that this is not a current invention or a marketing idea, since these special beers have a great (and very beautiful) tradition. In this post we want to tell you the history and curiosities linked to winter beers.

It all started on December 21

Many, many years ago, in northern Europe, there lived a people of warrior sailors who had all their neighbors in fear. They were the Vikings, the early settlers of Scandinavia and Denmark. The Vikings had a polytheistic religion and their festivities coincided with the cycles of nature: the harvest, the sowing and, also, the arrival of the cold. One of the most important events in that cycle was Jule, or the celebration of the winter solstice which was celebrated on the equivalent of December 21.

Cervezas de invierno: la bebida del solsticio

This festivity honored the beginning of winter and was a kind of beginning of the cycle. It was celebrated in the family environment, preparing a great banquet that was accompanied by a particularly sweet and strong beer. Over time, the Vikings converted to Christianity and Jule became Christmas, and Jule Øl, or Jule Banquet Beer, became the original Christmas Beer .

The tradition of brewing beer to consume on the winter solstice lasted for centuries, right up to the present day. For years, it was even a legal imposition, promulgated among others by King Hakkon I of Norway, later reinforced by new laws as reflected in the Codex Ranzovianus of Gulathing, dated 1250 AD.

Currently, and somewhat as a reminder of that time, in Denmark J-Dag (or J-day) is celebrated, which is the date that the special beer for winter and Christmas is launched on the market Julebryg which will only be available from the first Friday of November until the end of the year.

And meanwhile, in England

In these same winter months, in medieval England it was customary to celebrate the Wassail. In this Christmas ritual, a toast was made to ensure that the following year there would be a good harvest and, in passing, also to share good wishes with close people. The word comes from Old Norse ves heill and Old English wes hál, which are related to the Anglo-Saxon greeting wes þú hál, meaning “may you be well ”, “may you be healthy” or “may you be healthy”. After all, a variant of “Cheers!” that we all say when we toast.

Cervezas de invierno: la bebida del solsticio

The drink taken from the wassail bowl was a dark beer (sometimes meads or ciders) that was spicy and sweet, often containing cooked apples. This drink was known as lambswool because the foam on top of the drink looked like “lambswool”. The drink was drunk hot.

With this previous tradition, it is not uncommon that by 1681, the tradition of making malty, strong and spicy beers, dedicated to reducing the rigors of winter, appeared. They were known as Winter Warmer Ales, something like Beer to Warm Up in Winter, a more or less free translation, the precursors of what today are called Winter Beers.

The Burton Ale also came to be considered winter beers in England for a long time Bass Brewery promoted this beer in 1909 as “the winter beer” and it was not the only one, since at least other 8 breweries in London in the mid-1950s promoted their Burton Ales as winter beers.

A monk wishes you a Merry Christmas

In Belgium there has always been a great brewing tradition. The monks brewed beer according to the rule of Saint Benedict established in the year 530: “ora et labora” (pray and work).

The key year is 1919, where the Belgian government banned the sale of spirits in bars and other public places, so there was a demand for stronger beers in alcohol. It is there that these contemporary Trappist styles began to be elaborated. But not only that, but they also developed various styles of seasonal beers, such as Christmas beers, also known as Bière d'Hiver (winter beer) or Bière de Noël (holiday beer). of Christmas).

These Christmas spiced beers are usually based on a full-bodied, alcoholic, dark beer. Although, actually any type of Belgian beer can work well for Christmas; especially the Trappist styles.

Cervezas de invierno: la bebida del solsticio

And in the rest of Europe

Currently, Christmas Beers or Christmas Ale or Bière de Noël in France, are seasonal beers (seasonal beer) brewed for these dates. They do not have a specific style although they are often Winter Ale.

These special formulations spread throughout Europe, so that in 1926, the Belgian Estella Artois launched one of the first seasonal beers in the country, which soon achieved great popularity. Until 1980, the year in which one of the most recognized Christmas Beers in the world was born in Zurich (although it became popular in Austria): Samichlaus.

Winter beer or Christmas beer?

We could understand a winter beer as a seasonal beer, which is brewed specifically for a period, and after that date, it stops being brewed until the following year.

What is clear is that winter beers are not a specific style of beer, but are made with beers of different styles, from bocks, Belgian dark strong, to of course Imperial Stouts or Baltic Porters.

The most traditional breweries usually make the same beer year after year, or with very small variations such as the use of a different aggregate.

On the other hand, Christmas beers could be defined as winter beers but focused on a very specific sale. In fact, in many cases, they are beers with almost the same elaboration as other beers in the brewery catalogue, but their labeling includes Christmas motifs, which makes them more attractive when it comes to finding them in stores.

That is, not all winter beers are Christmas beers, but logically all Christmas beers are winter beers.

In any case, puns aside, at beersapiens we believe that the important thing about these beers is to recover their original meaning: a time to surround themselves with family and to wish each other health and a prosperous start to year. Cheers to that!

Cervezas de invierno: la bebida del solsticio

Source: lartenbirra.blogspot.com, soloescerveza.com, birra365.com.


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