The Specs: Whistler Brewing Co.’s Winter Dunkel
650 mL, 5 per cent ABV, limited release
So, Bad Riders, how do you feel about chocolate oranges?
Depending on how you answer, you’re likely either going to love or hate Whistler Brewing Co.’s Winter Dunkel.
When I say chocolate oranges, I don’t mean any old orange and chocolate combo here. I’m thinking specifically of those foil-covered, milk chocolate, “whack and unwrap” balls that tend to appear in the candy aisle as the holidays get nearer.
If you’re in any way unenthusiastic about a beer version of that candy, Dunkel is probably not the brew for you.
On the nose, the beer is all fresh orange zest and milk chocolate, and there’s plenty of the same on the tongue. I say milk chocolate for a reason. The flavour’s on the sweet and creamy side, withs none of the bitterness or deeper cocoa notes you might expect with a darker chocolate.
There is, however, a little bit more going on with this beer than pure candy.
Thanks to the addition of coriander, this sweet-to-start beer actually has a finish that walks the line between savoury and spicy. Typing that out, I feel like it shouldn’t work. But it’s somehow right, in the same way that Mexican hot chocolate benefits from an infusion of chili pepper.
Without the coriander I suspect Winter Dunkel would be a little too sweet, verging on artificial. But, with the movement from candy to spice in each sip the beer stays interesting far longer, to the point where I was disappointed when my testing bomber ran out.
Another surprise — compared to Whistler’s other annual cold-weather offering, Chestnut Ale, the Winter Dunkel isn’t nearly as sweet or as heavy as I was expecting. That’s a relief. Dunkel has enough going on without piling on the richness.
(Sorry about that punny headline. I couldn’t help myself.)