In Maine, there are lots of things that mark the change of seasons from fall to winter. The geese finally travel south seeking warmer climates, the fountain is removed from the pond in the park and the vibrant leaves that have fallen become duller yellow mushy piles under the late autumn rains. Another cue – especially for the beer geeks among us – is the release of several key Maine-brewed seasonal beers, most notably the appearance of the Shipyard Prelude.
Shipyard Prelude is described as a “winter warmer” or an English Ale, depending on where you look. Released in mid-November, it is one of those things that reminds you that there’s a long winter ahead. It pours a caramel brown color and has a slightly nutty aroma. The taste is of a typical winter warmer, lots of sweetness and a little bit of warmth from the alcohol, balanced by a nice dose of malts. This one feels thicker in my mouth than some other offerings from Shipyard, and its flavors are definitely complex and interesting.
I think what I like about Prelude is that it has a no-nonsense approach to a winter seasonal. Not overly spiced or gimmicky in its flavor, its really just a very drinkable beer that will begin to shift your palate over to darker brews as the seasons go on. I don’t really know how far this distributes, but if you’re in Maine, it’s a bit of a tradition around here.