Birds & Beers of Winter 

by Malcolm Yates 
Photo by Malcolm Yates 

Hello and felicitations, my fine, feathered friend!  Forgive me, for I know not whether your plumage is ceremonial in nature, a glamourous affectation, or simple necessity.  Surely ’tis a sign of these chilling times, and one needs to wear what one must to keep warm as winter storms in.  Worry not, oh wearer of the wing, whatever your motive may be there is no judgement here: the last thing I’d want is to ruffle fea- well, you get the drift.  Let’s have a drink!


If the summer months are for “crushing” cans of lighter constitution (lager, pilsner and the like) then winter is for sipping slowly on stronger brews.  For, as the days get shorter and the temps get colder, the body’s Beer Barometer calls for a quenching less of thirst and more of soul.  Please welcome to the stage Mr. Porter and Mr. Stout.


Porters are darkish brown in colour and you’re going to get some roasted malty notes from the grain that announce themselves as dark chocolate or cocoa characters.  Stouts are generally everything I wrote in the last sentence but ratcheted up a notch.  Stouts are darker, roastier, and you’ll definitely get that cocoa character and even hints of coffee.  My apologies, I’ve just now started to salivate.  Please read on.  I’ll just wipe off my keyboard and-  There we go!


So those are two styles that scream out for consumption on a cold, winter’s night.  A great local derivation of the Stout is Howe Sound Brewing Company’s Diamond Head Oatmeal Stout.  The addition of “Oatmeal” to the moniker adds (you guessed it) oats to mix of barley, hops, yeast and water and gives the beer a softer mouthfeel and a slight cookie component.  Dammit, I’ve started drooling again.


If you’re looking for a good Porter look no further than A-Frame Brewing Company’s Magic Lake.  One of their core beers, the Magic Lake Porter is dark, smooth, rich and, in addition to the chocolate described in the paragraph previous, comes to call bearing mild caramel notes with a hint of smoke and coffee.  Yes, you can go bonkers describing beer just as you can go bonkers describing wine.  If you’re unsure if you’ll like it, ask for a sample or make it one of four in a flight.  As for me?  I’m going to have to start wearing a dribble bib: my keyboard is not one bit waterproof.


Backcountry Brewing doesn’t have a Stout or Porter in their regular lineup, per se, but they are continually changing up their recipes and putting the goods out via limited release.  Their current Stout, The Big LeStoutski (yes, it’s an homage to the Coen Brothers classic, The Big Lebowski, and this Dude definitely abides) is simply lovely and will likely be gone by the time this sexy magazine hits the street.  But I guarantee you that, when you saunter into Backcountry’s tasting room, they will have something dark, roasty & ready for you to imbibe, either on tap or in growler or can.  They really tie the room together.


And so, my eagle-eyed birds of prey, should you find yourself feasting on fish on the far side of the Squamish River and require something stout and sturdy to wash down the salmon, by all means dive-bomb down to one of the three Breweries Squamish has on offer and see for yourself what Porter and Stout is all about.  Mind the drool.




Howe Sound Brewing 

37801 Cleveland Avenue

Downtown Squamish, BC

A-Frame Brewing Company

1-38927 Queens Way

Business Park | Squamish, BC

Backcountry Brewing 

405- 1201 Commercial Way

Business Park | Squamish, BC 

Follow Malcolm Yates the Sea to Sky Beer Guy on Instagram @seatoskybeerguy