“Waaaaarm up with an ice-cold beeeer!” hollered a tray-carrying vendor at a particularly chilly autumn CFL football game I attended last year, if memory serves. I loved his pitch, mostly because it’s so perfectly outlandish you can’t help but laugh, but also because some beers are designed as winter warmers, even if not in the serving temperature sense (exception: Unibroue’s Quelque Chose, a spiced cherry beer meant to be served hot).
Rickard’s Cardigan, a limited-edition seasonal beer from the folks at Molson Coors, is aimed at bridging the hot/cold divide, uniting the warm tastes of fall’s favourite spices with the chilly embrace of an ice-cold brew.
The Pitch: From the Rickard’s website: “We’ve carefully selected the seasonal spices of cinnamon, nutmeg and clove as an inspiration for our flavourful nod to fall. With a final hint of brown sugar, you’ll find this spiced lager as familiar as putting on your favourite cardigan.”
The Look: Argyle! Nice label design on a standard-issue bottle. Cardigan sweater plus autumn tones. The beer pours a cloudy dark golden to amber colour, with a thin white head that left no lace.
The Taste: The nose is sweet with hints of spice. In the mouth, the sweetness carries through. The hops provide some bitterness – not enough to keep up with the sweetness, though – but don’t stand in the way of the spices. And speaking of which, you can taste all three, but I’m not sure if any one spice dominates. When you look for clove, there it is. Cinnamon? Ditto, as with nutmeg. The beer is pleasantly smooth, with more body than I was expecting. Candy and caramel notes abound. No pumpkin taste present, which is a plus if you like pumpkin-spice beers but don’t like pumpkin.
Pairs With: Rickard’s suggests braised ribs, sweet potato fries and turkey. I’d add to that list citrus-glazed ham with cloves. That could be fun.
RATINGS AND DETAILS
Cost: $10.99 for a six-pack of 341 mL bottles, on sale at Liquor Depot a few weeks back.
Value for cash money: At that price, nice.
Availability: Very limited, apparently. The Rickard’s website says it’s sold out for the season, but I’d think you might still be able to find a pack in the back of your local beer shop’s walk-in cooler.
Nutrition?: It’s beer.
Beerish power: 5.5% a.b.v.
The verdict: Not bad for what it is. Some folks hate spiced beers, and those folks aren’t going to like this. But it is an interesting oddity for a big brewery, and works well as a limited-release offering. Once six-pack per season is plenty.