Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Holiday Beers! Stuff your stockings with 22s!

Oh, the let-down... What glorious special releases at the Holiday Ale Fest! Now, the dirth of holiday ales can leave a beer geek feeling sad and blue, after all the excitement and mirth of last weekend... While over 50 beers were available for our tasting pleasure at the Holiday Ale Fest, they're rarely available or portable for overall holiday enjoyment past the weekend of the festival... But just as you're ready to lock yourself in the bathroom and cry your way through a box of Kleenex, hope appears on the horizon! Step away from the PBR Tall Boy. There's help for you.

Luckily enough, seasonally inspired brews are one of the best things about our region; brewers come together to present some special editions and barrel aged brews that geeks in other parts of the beer drinking world would not find. So never fear! The elves have been hard at work, and we're lucky to encounter a few that are easily accessible and readily available. These aren't so far off the beaten path of most palates, making them perfectly sharable (and quaffable for even the greenest of beer fans).

Whether you're a seasoned #pdxbeergeek (cheers!) or just dipping your toes into the wide world of craft beer (welcome!), here's a list of my top ten craft beers for every man and woman (sorry, children) this holiday season. Share these with those you love and show you care; pick up a growler or carry a couple of bombers to parties, warming your bellies and the hostesses' hearts. Here, the brewery descriptions of five great holiday beers, and my own asides to further stretch your burgeoning brew experiences:

Hopworks Kentucky Christmas - "Kentucky Christmas is an organic AbominabAle Winter Ale aged on freshly emptied Kentucky Bourbon barrels. It features a floral, spicy and citrus hop aroma backed by a complex, yet subtle, fruity hop flavor and just the right amount of malt sweetness. This beer will have you whistling "Dueling Banjos" in no time!"  

(if you can't find Kentucky Christmas, AbominabAle Winter Ale is delicious - hoppy, resiny, a great foil to many traditional foods. AbominabAle is available at bottles shops around town.)

Ninkasi Imperiale - "Strong, dark and brooding, Imperial Stouts were originally crafted by the British to survive the long journey to Russia through rain, sleet, and snow. Full bodied and surprisingly smooth, Imperiale Stout has a big roast hit up front, and rich, dark malt flavors balanced by ample hop bitterness."  

(Imperiale comes in a seasonal 4 pack of 22 ounce bottles with Total Domination, Believer Double Red and Sleigh'r Dark Double Alt, a perfect party pack or hostess gift. While Imperiale is my top pick this season out of the box, Sleigh'r is always a great go to beer.)    

Oakshire Ill Tempered Gnome - "Take a little gnome home this winter! However, don’t put him in the front yard. The neighbors might steal him & he’ll definitely lose his cool! He’s a malty, hoppy brown ale of pure winter deliciousness. Enjoy and Happy Holidays!"  

(Oakshire's Overcast Espresso Stout is another delicious and very holiday worthy brew. I've shared this with many friends, beer-experienced and newbie alike, and all complement the chocolatey, roasty flavors of Overcast.)  

Lompoc C-Sons Greetings - "Brewed and dry-hopped with all seven “C” hops. A deep copper color with a piney, citrusy, floral and resinous aroma. Full hop flavor with a rich caramel malt finish and an endless developing hop presence."  

(Be sure to stop in to a Lompoc location to try out Blitzen, their spiced golden ale. Refreshing and delicious! While not typically a fan of spiced ales, Blitzen was one of my top faves at the Lompoc holiday ale event. Sparkling and bright.)    

Deschutes Jubel Ale - "A dark, malty celebration ale with layered flavors and beautifully balanced hopping. Jubelale pours deep garnet in color, medium bodied, with notes of chicory, earth, spice and fruit. To beer lovers, it’s like Yule fire and family. The collaborative art of Central Oregon artists Cara Thayer and Louie Van Patten adorns this year's label."  

(For a special gift, pick up a bottle of Deschutes' The Abyss - a gloriously aged and deliciously complex stout. This one is fantastic to tuck away for a year and save for a special occasion! I was fortunate enough to have a dear beer friend bring a bottle of aged Abyss to Thanksgiving dinner. Exquisitely molasses, rich, and velvety!)

No matter what you choose, craft beer is a great choice for the holiday table. With so many choices, you're sure to find one to suit any palate, so enjoy experimenting and finding your favorite holiday combinations!


This post originally posted in Milwaukie Rules! on December 8, 2011