Sure, the weather is getting colder. The sweaters are out, the roads are getting slicker, and the appeal of an ice cold lager is waning. Thankfully, there is a beverage custom tailored for this season, and that’s Muskoka Brewery’s Winter Beard double chocolate cranberry stout.

This is a beer that embraces its eccentricities. Not for the faint of heart, it’s brewed with real cocoa, 70 per cent dark chocolate, locally picked cranberries, and packs a real flavour wallop. Lesser stouts wilt in the bristling, hairy face of this enormous beer.

The smell is fairly fruity, with decent notes of cranberry wafting from the thick dark fluid. It takes the edge off a bit; anyone who is a little apprehensive about approaching this beverage is forgiven. It froths with a brown head, and the viscosity of the liquid is immediately apparent with rings of it clinging to the glass.

It may be cold outside, but I recommend taking your Winter Beard a tad warmer than you’re used to. Try leaving it in the fridge for 20 minutes or so just to give it a bit of a chill. You don’t have to wait until the mountains are blue, the extra warmth will really bring out the flavours.

Oh the flavours. Powerful notes of dark chocolate, a hint of mocha, and the beautiful toasty malts are almost overwhelming, but a faint hint of soft cranberry cuts into the thickness, making it utterly enjoyable. The body is quite heavy, and the alcohol content is relatively high at eight per cent, so Winter

Beard’s far from a thirst quencher. But as a winter warmer, it’s hard to beat this superb stout. Don’t let cold weather get you down. It’s time to bust out those beverages in which only the cold weather can bring out their brilliance. Muskoka has absolutely nailed it with this seasonal brew, and I cannot recommend it highly enough. So pick up a 750ml bottle and share it with a friend, making sure you sip it slow. There’s plenty to go around.