Every winter, I look out the window to see a wall of white and just want to curl up in the fetal position, close my eyes and rock myself to sleep until the spring thaw. Then I remind myself that this is the best time of year to curl up with a blanket, a good book and a glass of rich, roasty stout.
Luckily, you don't have to look beyond our borders to find an excellent selection of this hearty winter brew.
Why stout? This dark, toasted beer is a satisfying sipper, pairs well with food and if you happen to meet one you don't like - not something I've experienced personally - stout can elevate a chocolate cake or fortify a beef stew.
Here are my top picks for local stouts ...
Rare Bird Full Steam Stout, 660ml, 7% ABV, brewed in Guysborough
At first taste, it's hard to believe this beer contains 7 per cent alcohol. For a stout, it's light bodied, with toasty aromas, soft carbonation and a slightly bitter aftertaste that lingers on the palate. This is a good stout for beginners.
Garrison Martello Stout, 500ml, 4.8% ABV, brewed in Halifax
This is an excellent dry stout from a local brewery that has been making it for 15 years. It has a beautiful silky mouthfeel and is full-bodied, with nutty and dark chocolate flavours.
Propeller Revolution Russian Imperial Stout, 500ml, 8% ABV, brewed in Halifax
This beer is a real beast. Propeller is not messing around. This strong beer has an almost rusty scent and rich, complex flavours similar to a barley wine. I suggest having a small glass of this with a cheese board featuring Camembert or Double Crème Brie to balance the heft of this beer.
Uncle Leo's Smoked Porter, 650ml, 6.8% ABV, brewed in Lyons Brook
So ... you may have noticed that this isn't actually a stout, but it's so delicious, it can't be ignored. This beer is liquid campfire - and I mean that in the best possible way. It's medium bodied with a smoky scent, a warming hickory flavour and a tangy kick on the finish. This beer is sitting by a wood stove in a log cabin on a frosty winter's night. Take a sip and tell me I'm wrong.
Big Spruce's dark and complex Cereal Killer Stout. Halifax brewpubs Rogue's Roost and Granite Brewery also have fine stout seasonally available on tap.
What's your favourite winter beer?