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5 to Try: Brandon Montgomery’s Nostalgic Winter Beers

As a trained engineer, Brandon Montgomery, one of 2021’s Imbibe 75 People to Watch, found that his work took him all over the globe, and his passion for beer followed. What began as a #blackbeertravelers hashtag to share his personal beer adventures has morphed into a broader project celebrating—and encouraging—diversity in craft beer. Here, Montgomery reflects on some of his favorite beer memories and brews for winter sipping.

Brooklyn Brewery Black Chocolate Stout “This winter favorite is a master class in blending malts and mashes to produce rich, dark chocolate aromas and flavors,” says Montgomery of Brooklyn Brewery’s renowned Russian imperial stout, which he first sampled at a holiday beer exchange back in 2012 while living in New Jersey. “This was one of the standouts that I would cellar and enjoy until my last bottle was finished three years later. By then, I’d already moved away but I still remembered my New Jersey craft beer crew. The rich—but not overly sweet or toasty—chocolate notes bind to those memories of togetherness, especially with those you may not be able to have in close company these winter months.” See brooklynbrewery.com for distribution.

Chimay Grande Réserve “In October of 2014, I found myself in Abu Dhabi for work. One night for dinner, we decided on the Belgian restaurant in the InterContinental Abu Dhabi where you’re greeted with every expected aesthetic of a traditional Belgian beer bar. I ordered mussels and paired them with Chimay Grande Réserve (Blue),” says Montgomery, noting the color of the label, which has become an identifier for Chimay’s classic Belgian abbey beers. “The pairing was slightly aggressive for the mussels, but the beer is perfect for cold nights with deep, bready malts and rich, candied fruit notes. With each sip, you 5develop a warm protective layer.” $27.99/4-pack, bevmo.com

El Segundo Brewing Company Power Plant TIPA “During winter, it’s fun to have a warming IPA to swiftly kick you out of the winter daze. Each February—timed with the release of a certain California triple IPA that is almost never bottled—El Segundo Brewing Company releases Power Plant, their own West Coast Triple IPA that is bottled and made widely available,” says Montgomery of the SoCal brewery’s an- swer to the cultish fervor for Russian River’s Pliny the Younger. “It has a high-intensity, hop-forward aroma of grapefruit, papaya, pine, and resin. The taste follows the aroma but adds a medium sweetness that supports the hops before finishing dry. My favorite memory of this beer is having it on draft at the yearly West Coast TIPA shootout hosted by Hamilton’s Tavern in San Diego.” See elsegundobrewing.com for distribution.

Prairie Artisan Ales Double Dunk “Adjunct stouts are hardly a new thing in craft beer, but recently more breweries have ventured into the over- the-top pastry stout arena,” Montgomery muses. “On a chilling winter’s day in Oklahoma City in 2019, I walked into the Prairie Artisan Ales taproom to be greeted with one of their stouts I had yet to try.” Double Dunk lives up to the category hype as an imperial stout aged on more than 700 pounds of Oreo cookies per batch, and bottled at almost 12 percent. “This beer pours jet black with a small, brownish head and an aroma that is every bit your favorite childhood cookie. The flavors are similar to the aroma, but with a subtle hint of licorice to support the moderate sweetness.” See prairieales.com for distribution.

Schneider Weisse Aventinus Weizen-Doppelbock “My first experience with Aventinus was at Yokohama Cheers in Japan in February of 2013. It was probably the first Weizen-Doppelbock I’d ever had and it was a super surpris- ing beer,” says Montgomery. Brewed in Bavaria for more than a century, this wheat beer pours a deep shade of amber and clocks in at 8.2 percent ABV. “Somehow it was light and frothy on the palate, but rich in sweet, bready malt, dried berries, banana, light pepper, and clove. It was an instant favorite and the perfect beer for the walk back to the hotel through the cold Yokohama evening.” $4.99/16.9 oz. bottle, totalwine.com

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