Drink Warm Beer On Purpose This Holiday Season (Recipe)
Warm beer. No, I'm not talking about that can of Pabst that's been sitting on the counter for days, but an honest to hops notion of serving a beer this holiday season that has been warmed. I am referring to the imbibing of a mulled beer - to warm and add spices and sweetening to it.
Jeremy Tarling, Creative Commons Simmer down, now.
Now wait, before you storm off in protest, claiming that 'ice cold is the way beer is meant to be served', let me say that until modern refrigeration, beer was made and kept in beer cellars, where temperatures fluctuated depending on the time of year - people drank beer at whatever temperature it was served at, not giving it a second thought.
During colonial times in America, a hot tankard of ale provided a comforting treat during the cold winter months. In fact, warmed beer was such a staple of early America, that in 1893 Alice Morse Earle compiled a compendium of warm beer drinks in "Customs and Fashions in Old New England". Here, she documented the preference for these types of drinks over the previous two hundred years, and compared them to other 'standards' of mulled beverages: cider, rum, tea, coffee and chocolate.
The easiest of the mulled beers was termed "Aleberry", and was made by heating beer to boiling, then adding sugar, spices, and topping all with floating sops of bread. The use of 'spices' here, was left up to the individual. They could be practically anything, though keeping in the flavors, probably involved your typical holiday spices of cinnamon and ginger.