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.
You’ve heard us talk about Brouwer’s Cafe on a number of occasions. Its become one of the most polarizing topics on this blog. While we undeniably love the experience that Brouwer’s offers, we have heard the concerns of some readers.
Regardless of some negative sentiment, there is no denying that Brouwers offers the best in Washington beer events. I can think of no other establishment that so consistently puts on such world-class beer events. Well, another event starts next week – and its one that we can all get behind.
Washington Beer Festival is an exploration through the world of Washington beer. Brouwers Cafe will dedicate all of its almost 60 taps to the great NW territory we call home. Whats more is that the menu will focus on Washington sourced cuisine. Remember, Brouwers serves up some amazing grub.
Check up on their website for more information on this event. Right now, its unknown when the event will end. But, next Wednesday – the party begins.
Seattle’s sustainable brewer, Fremont Brewing, is making a big splash. Amidst increasing exposure and growing popularity, Fremont Brewing is finally rolling out a canning line. Even more exciting (to us) is that Fremont has begun the process of producing sour beer, right here in Washington state.
Both of these items were disclosed by way of a blog post today at the brewery’s website. The blog post states that the brewery acquired a used canning system that will allow them to put beer in a can at impressive rates.
From the post:
The used caning line Matt scored for us arrived yesterday! It’s a manual system capable of canning 20 cases an hour. Now we just have to buy some cans (minimum order: 85,000) and soon you’ll see us in grocery stores — and elsewhere…
This is some pretty exciting stuff. If Fremont moves quickly, they will be the 3rd (2nd?) canner in the state of Washington. Whats great about this news is that shows that Fremont has fulfilled its dreams.
When the first announcements of Fremont’s launching were released, the press release promised canning – now they have fulfilled that lofty goal. Congrats Fremont, we cannot wait to crack a beer.
More interesting to many of us at BeerBlotter.com was the claim that Fremont began barreling its Universale Pale Ale in Cabernet barrels this week. That beer will be fermented using wild yeasts to create sour ale. Yum.
Washington brewers and sour ale have not historically joined forces. Minuscule batches of sour ales have been brewed in the past for super-limited releases from Elysian Brewing and Big Al Brewing, but nothing consistently produced and available to the public.
Fremont’s sour ale endeavor involves using a pale ale, aged in cabernet sauvignon barrels. The concoction may closely resemble that used to create Russian River Brewing’s Consecration (though no fruit was mentioned).
Lets just hope that Fremont sticks with this trend. Sour beer is a great seller and something that can raise a brewer’s profile considerably.
Hey, maybe they will even entertain the idea of canning their new sour creation? Its highly doubtful, but its been done – just ask Rodenbach, who’s Grand Cru can be found in cans throughout Belgium.
We cannot wait to try both of the new products from one of Washington’s finest.
Beer Blotter editors recently booked a trip to Washington DC. We would like your help finding the right places to spend our valuable time.
Certainly there are a lot of resources on where to visit in our nation’s capital – but we would like a bit more personal of a reflection on the fine establishments in DC.
RateBeer.com does not lists any one DC establishment in its Top 50 for 2010 (though Columbia, MD’s Frisco Cantina is close by).
But what else is out there? What cannot be missed? Please let us know!
Leave a comment or send us an email at email@example.com.
Thanks for the dialogue.
Here, in the third installment of the collaborative brewing article, we present a bit of a list of some of the most notable collaboration projects of the past, present and future.
This write up would be remiss to not mention the prolific Danish brewer with no brewery, Mikkel Borg Bjergso of Mikkeller. If brewing beer at someone else’s brewery were criteria enough to evoke the collaboration moniker, every Mikkeller beer to hit the shelves would be just that. Even still, Mikkel has, over the years, joined forces with Stone, Brew Dog, Three Floyds, Struise, Alesmith, Nogne O, and others to make some really exciting beers.
A collaboration that us Seattleites are very familiar with is that of Elysian Brewing Co. and New Belgium Brewing Co. The ‘Trip’ series allows Elysian to brew with more volume on the New Belgium system and New Belgium to brew more experimental, small batches on the Elysian system. Lucky for us, these beers are only available on draft in the Northwest.
The first brew was Trippel (not triple) IPA, a Belgian-inspired Indian Pale Ale. Trip II was a unique hoppy Belgian Golden Ale spiced with lemongrass and grains of paradise. Trip III was a sour brown ale and Trip IV, a Finnish style sahti brewed with juniper. Beer Blotter will be on the edge of their seats in anticipation of each subsequent release.
The darlings of the Florida scene, Cigar City Brewing, just may be sending a bit of their art in Seattle’s direction when they collaborate with The Bruery in what will be the most anticipated collaboration release for yours truly. Keep your eyes peeled in July or August of this year.
Terrapin Beer Co. of Athens, GA and Left Hand Brewing of Longmont, CO have actually decided to make a somewhat regular go at collaborating together with the ‘Midnight Project’ series. Brew One in 2008 produced Terra-Rye’zd, a black rye lager. Last year’s Brew Two saw Depth Charge, an espresso milk stout. Sadly, WA is not amongst the 6 states that receive these beers, but if you are in TN, NC, SC, GA, FL or CO, we will gladly offer you our address and some packaging materials.
Quite possibly the biggest (in terms of brewery size) collaboration yet sees Boston Beer Co. and Weihenstephan join forces. The largest American craft brewery and the oldest brewery in the world, that’s pretty monumental! The uncharacterized style will come at the intersection of brewing innovation and the old German purity law, the Reinheitsgebot. According to Realbeer.com, “their yet-to-be-named beer will be released in both the United States and Germany next spring in cork-finished bottles. Effervescent and Champagne-like beer it will weigh in at more than 10 percent alcohol by volume.”
Another fairly sizeable collaborative effort came at the hands of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery and Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. These two have been quite active lately, in fact, on the collaborative front. Life and Limb came when Sam Calagione and Ken Grossman, two monumental names in American craft brewing, decided to cook up a beer together after sharing a pint or two at the Craft Brewer’s Conference. Their concoction ended up being a 10% strong ale brewed with maple syrup, fermented with a combination of both breweries house yeast strains and naturally carbonated with birch syrup. Limb and Life was also created in this session, a small beer made from the second runnings of Life and Limb.
Boulevard Brewing Co. of Kansas City, MO just recently made its first mark on the collaboration scene with a very unlikely cohort, the Belgian Trappist brewery Orval. Using an old recipe that Orval brewmaster Jean-Marie Rock had, an Imperial Pilsner was made using only one kind of malt, Saaz hops, water, and a lager yeast. Beer Blotter has never wanted to try a pilsner so bad. This beer is available in Seattle so look for it, we will be.
The final collaboration to be discussed in this round will be another America-meets-Belgium pairing that, well…I’m sure you can all imagine just how much that concept gets our blood pumping. Green Flash Brewing Co. of San Diego County and Brasserie St. Feuillien of Le Roeulx, Belgium have teamed up to make Bière De L’Amitié, or “Beer of Friendship”. Beernews.org reports that this 9.5% blonde Belgian strong ale will be released in June of 2010. Rye and wheat malts were used, along with Amarillo hops, St. Feuillien’s yeast strain, “secret” spices, and the whole mess was dry hopped with Amarillo. Sounds stupid good.
Any thoughts on collaborations? Know any good ones we missed? Join the conversation with a comment.
We are still alive and kicking. We have been pre-occupied with endless beer consumption for the past 10 days. But with it all coming to a close, its time to re-inject ourselves into your daily news garb.
The trip has been magnanimous. We have met beers, geese, brewers, and nipping winds. Belgium treated us well.
Visits to Cantillon, Alvinne, Westvleteren, Moeder Lambic Pater’s Vaetje, Poatersgat, and de Gans – were top flight. But we have some negative marks for some Belgian staples as well.
We return on Sunday and promise to have full remarks by that time. Enjoy your weekend!