Winter Beer Tasting

A Wintery Mix
Up until this past week, you wouldn’t be able to tell by the weather around the East Coast so far, but the Winter and holiday season of beers is upon us. You tend to see a lot of really great, small batch and limited seasonal brews during this period between November and February. Winter and holiday beers are usually malty, dense and complex in both taste and ingredients. Many are made with fruit(dates, figs, apples, cherry) or spice(all spice, nutmeg, juniper, mint, coriander).

I’m a hop head, so trying something different and hoppy is always a treat. Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale is dry hopped and just a great aromatic and flavorful beer. Very different from most winter or holiday beers. The Lagunitas Sucks Holiday Ale is similar, but with a slight sweeter and citrusy taste. The Rogue Santa’s Reserve is similar to their red ale, but with double the hops.

The Weyebacher Winter Ale was one of the best of the more traditional variety, with a deep-roasted chocolatey flavor. It doesn’t overdue the roasted flavor which I think hurts a lot of these beers. The Samuel Smith and Sam Adams proved to be pretty good go to winter brews. Both amber in color and lighter in flavor. Seems like they could both go well with lots of different holiday meals.

The Scaldis Noel was the highest abv, a Belgian Strong Ale kicking it up to 12%. The nose on it hinted at what was to come. It’s got a sweeter, almost sherry taste to it. It definitely is a beer that needs to come down to room temp to be truly appreciated. The Troegs Mad Elf was the other high abv beer, sitting at 11%. Also a Strong Ale, it has a beautiful, sweet, cherry like flavor to it. It also tasted considerably better closer to room temp.

Pretty much the entire group agreed, the least favorite was the Harpoon Winter Warmer. It was overly spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg. For the most part, we all differed on what we liked. For me, the hoppy and Belgian style rained supreme. There were beers others hated, I loved and vice versa.

Here is the full list of what we sampled that day:
Saranac Big Moose Ale
Troegs Mad Elf -fn
Scaldis Noel
Weyerbacher Winter Ale
Peak Organic Winter
Great Divide Hibernation Ale
Smuttynose Winter Ale
Lagunitas Sucks Holiday Ale
Goose Island Winter Wit
Ithaca Winterizer
Harpoon Winter Warmer
Magic Hat Odd Notion Winter
Flying Dog K-9 Cruiser
Sierra Celebration
Blue Point Winter Ale
Rogue Santa’s Private Reserve
Full Sail Wreck The Halls
Samuel Smith Winter Welcome
Sam Adams Winter Ale

Listening Pile:
Fucked Up – Jingle Bells
As was seen on No Reservations Holiday Special. Because really, who doesn’t love a punk rock version of Christmas Songs? Who?


Today’s Links

Boogie Down Midtown?
Last week this item was discovered by the NY Post. The 1915 letter from team co-owner Colonel Tillinghast L’Hommedieu Huston, begs American League brass to help keep the then-financially struggling franchise afloat and to help them consider a midtown NYC location for their new stadium. It’s pretty interesting to think what would have become of not only NYC, the subways and Manhattan’s landscape if the Yankees had set up home in Manhattan as opposed to the Bronx. It’s also interesting to think of the impact it would have had across baseball, which as this article suggests, could have meant maybe the Dodgers and Giants wouldn’t have left, or maybe the Mets wouldn’t exist. The butterfly effect on that possible move some 90 years ago would still be happening. Crazy stuff huh?

Lagunitas Doesn’t Suck
The Beer and Whiskey Brothers talk about the recent holiday release from Lagunitas, The Lagunitas Sucks Holiday Ale. Saying it’s a good beer, but not a good holiday beer. With that said, I’m really happy that The Lagunitas Sucks Holiday Ale is completely different from most Holiday beers. I did a tasting of winter/holiday beers a few weeks ago(someone needs to write that up, hmmm) and it was my favorite beer of the day. It was refereshing and hoppy, completely different from just about all the other beers that were drenched in spices like nutmeg, coriander and cinnamon or overly smokey/chocolatey. It was a great change of pace. It gets my highest level of recommendation.

Oooooold Rasputin
Definitely jealous of Lori from 100beers30days drinking this North Coast Brewing Co.’s Old Rasputin XII. It was aged in bourbon barrels and then cellared for two years. Old Rasputin is one of my all-time favorite stouts. Great to hear her thoughts on how it tastes after the aging. Liquid chocolate ganache. Hmmmmm…

Beer Happenings
Our friend Mary takes a look at the hot beer events going on this week. It’s a doozy, topped with the Beer Bar Fest going on at the 404 space. Tonight’s event at Rye House sounds awesome with some Dogfish Hell Hound on My Ale and Robert Johnson blues going on. The Blind Tiger holiday beer sampling sounds fun. Idle Hands has one on Friday.

Listening Pile:
Still Corners – Into The Trees
Don’t know a whole lot about this band aside from them being on Sub Pup. Their bio is pretty uninformative. They make dreamy lo-fi pop gems with girl vocals. Reminds me a little bit of Broadcast, which is a good thing. Check it!