If you live in the Seattle area and you like beer enough to read this blog, chances are pretty good that you will be hitting up Big Wood Fest at Brouwer’s Cafe, if not on opening night (Thursday Dec. 2), at some point this coming weekend. Hopefully you have already gazed upon the outstanding preliminary list which can be found on our site here and on Brouwer’s blog.
Clearly, there’s a lot of options to chose from, and all of us, most unfortunately, only have one measly liver to assist us in tackling them. This is where we come in. We drink a lot of beer. We have been to BWF several times now. If you want to make sure that you order your barrel aged beers wisely, heed our advice. We don’t think that you will be disappointed.
I’ve decided to choose my top 15. These are the beers that I plan to sample, based on the current list. It’s my game plan. I know what you are thinking, and yes, I actually do think that I can try 15 beers. When bb.com goes to big beer events at Brouwer’s, where there is never a cover, we make sure to roll deep. We bring out as many friends as possible, we direct them on what to order, and then we drink their beers (of course we let them drink ours too). Always be sure to order the smallest size that is offered, every time. These events are all about getting your hands, and tastes buds, on as many special and rare beers as possible.
This list is, as always with Brouwer’s events, subject to change because it is very likely that the final list will include a few eye-popping secrets. This year I’m hoping to see a few more special Hair of the Dog beers, more vintage Bottleworks Anniversary beers like barrel aged Ivan the Terrible, and maybe some more killer locals like Petite Mort from Black Raven or some Big Time treats.
Deviation is the best Russian River beer that I have ever had (and that puts it very high on my all time list, if not at the top). Also, Bottleworks periodically pulls some out of their cellar and sells it for nearly $100 a bottle. I think I bought it for $15. This beer is the epitome of rare and the epitome of mind-blowingly delicious. Please, don’t order this so that I can drink it all, that is, if it really does still exist…
Each and every time that I have perused the beer aisle or strolled into a bottle shop over the past few weeks I have noticed more and more winter beers on the shelves. I guess it’s officially that time of the year. The days are getting shorter, the trees are shedding, there is a nip in the air… we will soon be required to warm ourselves with thicker clothing, crackling fires, and most importantly, robust beers.
Yeah it’s true, the pumpkin and fresh hop beers will soon be gone for the year. As quickly as they come, they go, but let’s relish in it…enough with those hoity-toity additives…lets soak in the depths of the true beer ingredients, namely, malt, lots and lots of malt.
Winter beers are all about fending off the cold. It’s like a thick chowder that coats the inside of your belly, warms the innards, adds fat, and preps you for a lengthy hibernation. The booze levels often push boundaries, the sugar levels pose similar inner quarrels as that far to common holiday season overindulgence on cookies. It’s hearty through and through. Santa’s belly, not excluded.
And there exists not that boisterous Ho, Ho and inevitable Ho in the Seattle area without the annual Winter Beer Fest at Hale’s Ales. This year, the indulgence falls on the weekend of December 10th and 11th. One can only hope that WA’s finest will be in attendance. If you, personally, are not amongst the present, it’s quite clear that you care not about sustenance and suspension through the cold months, and you should, sooner than later, except your fate as a fallen entity…one existing only as a human icicle. Say your good-byes now.
Whether you prep for hibernation or not, attend winter beer fest or not, any beer drinker with pride for the local and the slightest holiday spirit should do their very best to seek out Washington’s finest Winter Beers.
Here is a list of some of the Washington brewed Winter Ales to keep an eye out for (note: all descriptions presented are commercial unless not supplied. Those not supplied are notated with a “*” and are provided by beerblotter):
Boundary Bay Cabin Fever – A strong ale or “Winter Warmer” with dark red-brown color and a very rich malty flavor. Dry-hopped lightly with Cascades for a pleasant aroma and slightly spicy hop finish. This big beer is deceptively strong, yet tastes very smooth thanks to extra long cold conditioning. Original Gravity: 1.072.
Fremont Abominable Winter Ale – tasty winter ale, limited release. Dark, roasty, chocolaty, malt flavors balanced by Noble hop aroma and subtle hoppy spice. Warm up to it. Don’t be Scared to be Abominable.
Lazy Boy Mistletoe Bliss – A new brown ale on steroids! Stock up now to warm those cold winter nights. ABV 7.5%, Grains: Pale, crystal, Munich, brown, Vienna, chocolate. Hops: Ahtanum.
Maritime Pacific Jolly Roger Christmas Ale – * This rich malt bomb has a dark red hue and flavors of dried fruits.
Diamond Knot Ho! Ho! Winter Ale – A robust, ‘Winter Warmer’ ale, ruby brown in color with a slightly sweet, fruity nose. Very hoppy, yet balanced with a residual sweetness.
Elysian Bifrost – Style: Winter ale, Body: Medium to Sturdy, TASTING NOTES: Pours golden with orange highlights. Smells alluringly sweet like caramel apples with a little spice and orange zest. Taste is bold and balanced with a good amount of citrus and earthy hop bitters to offset the bready, sweet malt character. Finishes dry with a bit of fruit. MALTS: Pale with small amounts of Munich and Crystal, HOPS: Bittered with Centennial, finished with Amarillo and Styrian Golding, ABV: 7.5%, IBU: 55.
Pike Auld Acquaintance Hoppy Holiday Ale – A winter treat (Wassail) dating from pre-Christian times. Celebrates the winter solstice. Festive and flavorful with delicious hints of orange peel, coriander, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
Pyramid Snow Cap – Deep mahogany in color, our full-bodied winter warmer is brewed in the spirit of British winter ales. Crafted with a flurry of roasted chocolate and caramel malts, and generously hopped, it delivers a smooth finish that makes this beer the perfect cold weather companion. Original Gravity: 17.3, Alcohol by Volume: 7.0, IBU: 47, Malts: 2-Row Barley, Caramel 80L, Chocolate Malt, Hops: Nugget, Willamette, East Kent Goldings.
Redhook Winterhook Winter Ale – The 2010/2011 Winterhook Winter Ale is a rich, full-bodied beer with a red chestnut color. It combines imported and local Caramel, Vienna, Pils, Chocolate and NW 2-Row Malts for a complex profile balanced by four hop varieties added in the brewing to emphasize the end hop character (flavor and aroma). Beautifully balanced, the flavors meld to create an overall complex profile with no single ingredient out of harmony. ABV: 6%, Malts: Caramel, Pils, Chocolate, Vienna and NW 2-Row, Hops: Cascade, Willamette, Northern Brewer and Centennial, Bitterness Units: 42 IBU, Original Gravity: 15 degrees plato.
Schooner Exact Hoppy the Woodsman – Bourbon Barrel Aged Winter Ale. Need you say more? A big brother to Hoppy Holidays, this winter ale has gained a level of complexity and intrigue during those months luxuriating in its bourbon barrel haven. Chocolate malt and a healthy dose of hops help maintain balance.
Scuttlebutt 10 Below – Style: imperial dunkelweiss, Aroma: crisp citrus, Taste: medium body with a rich chocolate finish, Hops: mt. hood & american saaz, 22 ibu’s, 7.4% alcohol by volume.
Silver City Old Scrooge – If Old Scrooge can’t get you in the Holiday spirit nothing can. A rich amber ale, ripe with fruit and spice, Old Scrooge’s character will fully develop as it warms. Intriguing notes of apple, cherry and apricot occur naturally as a result of its unique fermentation and extended aging – 9% ABV.
Hale’s Ales Wee Heavy – * This style is Scottish and piles on thick like a marching calvary of bagpipers. There’s malty ales of the old world, and then there’s wee heavys.
Port Townsend Winter Ale – Our winter ale is made from a blend of pale and crystal malts, roasted barley and Belgian aromatic malts. Cooler fermentation and a longer aging time adds further complexity to this Old Ale style. Original Gravity:1.072 Alcohol by Volume: 7.4%.
Two Beers Winter Hop – Winter Hop – The sun doesn’t shine much in winter around here. It’s darker, more subdued and subtle. If you enjoy this about winter, then there is a pretty good chance Winter Hop will find comfort with you. It’s darker, its slightly chocolate-y and dry-hopped with Amarillos. Cheers! IBU’s: 67, OG: 1.068, Hops Used: Amarillo, Galena, Magnum.
Ram Sleigher – * Brew pub chain…don’t make exciting beers…? You’re wrong folks, this is one of the best winter beers I have ever had.
Dick’s Double Diamond Winter Ale – Northwest style seasonal with massive amount of grain and several healthy additions of hops.
Fish Tale Winter Fish – Here is the full-bodied seasonal ale that brings meaning to “Winter Warmer”. With a snappy hop character, this isn’t just another brown beer masquerading as a seasonal. This is hearty fare brewed for the season of celebrations. Enjoyed at ease with friends and food, Winterfish will put a glow in the cheeks and warmth in the veins. Pale and honey malts provide an abundantly deep foundation. Then, for bittering, flavor, and aroma, we use 100% Yakima Chinook hops in the kettle. For additional flavor and aroma, it’s more Yakima Chinooks in the hop-back. Perfect for festive feast, this is the hoppiest winter ale we know of! Savor a pint and you’ll know why Northwesterners agree: An ice-cold Winter never sounded better! 7.5% alc/vol 1.071 O.G. 70 IBUs.
Its officially spring in Seattle….there are blossoms, tulips and its cold and crappy. The weather can’t get us down as we head for Florida this weekend (Cigar City…what!) and DC next month. Beer adventures to come! But on with your weekly events.
Monday, April 5, 2010
Avery Beer Dinner and Tasting: Colorado Springs, Colorado
6:30PM-9:30PM @ A Second Cup
The tasting will be four unique beers that are not normally available and these rarities will be on tap plus one of our current tap Avery Beers. 4 of the 5 will be tap beers….that in itself is a rarity for many. We will start at 6:30 with a social time until dinner service at 7:00pm. You will be served a five course dinner specifically paired with each beer. Hurry and sign up fast there are only 32 seats available! YOU MUST PRE-REGISTER!
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
Boston v. New York: Auburn, New York
6:00PM-10:00PM @ Bistro One
Let the rivalry continue into the realm of beer. Although the Yanks lost the opening game, I have complete faith that the NY Breweries are up for the challenge. Come support the city of your choice and enjoy beers from Ommegang (NY), Brooklyn Brewery (NY), Sam Adams (Boston) and Harpoon (Boston).
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Brewers Night with Port Townsend: Bellingham, Washington
6:00PM-9:00PM @ The Green Frog Cafe
Stop by and taste one of Washington’s premier breweries. Located on an island across the Puget Sound from Seattle, Port Townsend Brewing Company brews amazing IPAs and killer Porters. Enjoy the beers and the free give-a-ways.
Thursday, April 8, 2010
Cigar City Night: Melbourne, Florida
5:00PM-10:00PM @ Coasters Pub
Coasters will host a night spotlighting Cigar City Brewery’s fantastic beers. Expect to see Hunupus #1, Cuban Espresso Brown, Double Cream Ale, Jai Alai IPA and Maduro Brown ale, along with whatever else we can get our hands on! Fingers crossed for Huna Phu Stout!
Friday, April 9, 2010
Victory Brewing Tasting: Boston, Massachusetts
5:30PM-7:30PM @ Wine Emporium
For your pleasure and enjoyment from Victory Brewing Co. -Prima Pils; Hop Devil IPA; WildDevil IPA with Brett (seriously, try this!); Golden Monkey Triple and Storm King Imperial Stout.
Saturday, April 10, 2010
Brewer Meet and Greet: Chicago, Illinois
6:00PM-8:00PM @ Binny’s Beverage Depot
Stop by and drink with the owners of Belgium brewery, Brouwerij De Musketiers. We had the pleasure of trying Troubador Obscura in Belgium and tonight it will be on draft. Enjoy!
Sunday, April 11, 2010
Left Hand Vintage Bottle Dinner: Grand Rapids, Michigan
6:00PM-8:00PM @ HopCat
The menu is to die for and the beers from Left Hand Brewery will only enhance the flavors. Eat, drink and be merry. Celebrate your Sunday with the following pairings:
1.Smoked Meat and Cheese Plate-2007 Goosinator
2.Plantain Crusted Catfish Bites-2007 Chainsaw
3.Roast Pork and Root Vegetables-2006 St. Vrain
4.Barleywine & Walnut Ice Cream-2003 Oak Aged Widdershins
Beer Blotter is off to Florida, Tampa and Sarasota this week. So if you have any suggestions on breweries, beer bars, beers in general and/or bottle shops, please pass it along via comment or email- firstname.lastname@example.org.