Well, I made it all the way through. There were a few days of struggle, a few pushes. In the end, I had the gumption to get it done. 30 days and many beers – but each night a Christmas ale – are complete.
There were highs thanks to De Dolle and Hair of the Dog – and there were lows due in part to Ninkasi and Bridgeport. But all in all, I loved each evening. The beer did as I had hoped: restored Christmas to its rightful jolly state.
Throughout the process, I posted a blurb about each beer on our Facebook page. After 30 days, I made my choices. Here are the results:
Top 5 Beers – Overall Quality:
1. De Dolle Stille Nacht 2009
2. Hair of the Dog Doggie Claws 2009
3. Troegs Mad Elf
4. Nogne O/Jolly Pumpkin/Stone Special Holiday Ale 2009
5. Great Lakes Christmas Ale
Honorable Mentions: Brasserie Thiriez, Goose Island 2009 Xmas Ale, Fremont B-Bomb, and Silver City Old Scrooge
Top 5 Beers – Christmas Style:
1a. Nogne O/Jolly Pumpkin/Stone Special Holiday Ale 2009
1b. Great Lakes Christmas Ale
3. Anchor Christmas Ale 2010
4. Maritime Jolly Roger
5. Thirsty Dog 12 Dogs of Christmas
Honorable Mentions: Eggenberg Samichlaus, Silver City Old Scrooge, De Dole Stille Nacht, and Breckenridge Christmas Ale
Top Beer Description:
Most of the time when I wrote these reviews, I was half intoxicated at a bar typing on my phone. The quality of the review depended on my motivation level and surrounding conversations. Some beers were cheated, others were given too much (See De Dolle Stille Nacht for “too little” and Fremont Abominable for “too much”)
My favorite description came from drinking an Anchor Christmas Ale at Collins Pub in Seattle:
The Xmas ale is their staple, a seasonal release of many years. This year it tastes like some took a glass of milk, nuked it, dropped in 5 gingerbread houses and a black tea bag and put it in a laundry machine for 6 hours. After that, I drank it. It’s delicious, a fine example of Christmas flavors.
Top Memory of 30 Days of Christmas Ale
One night, Timperial came and surprised me with a party pig (finally, my own tap) and a bottle of Brasserie Thiriez Noel. We got sentimental:
I have a pretty good story about this brewer. Timperial and I drove out to West Flanders one morning to visit Saint Sixtus Abbey and drink the Westvleteren 12. After we got biblical, we decided to peruse the towns. We visited St Bernardus, shot the shit with local Woesteners, and proceeded to make the journey across enemy lines (kind of a joke) to France.
Escalbecq is literally 10 kilos across le border. The border is an unrecognizable line where my Tom Tom starts speaking french. We pulled up to a shanty of a farmhouse and went searching for Daniel (owner of Brasserie Thiriez). We bumped into a brute of a man (seinfeld Kramer reference) who had on denim suspenders and a weird rat tail haircut. I engaged him in conversation. He stared blankly and retorted: “oui?….” imagine the most confused vocal tone on earth, in French. That was this guy.
After nearly 10 minutes of charades, awkward hand signals and phony sign language – he finally understood “Daniel” and illistrated that he was sleeping. This guy? Le brassuer.
He also finally grasped my guzzling booze depiction. He led us to the farmhouse and we – extremely awkward – downed a few samples an bought a few bottles. On the way back to Belgium (10 kilos), we road soda’d a blonde and laughed hysterically at the hijinks. Tonight, we formed a consensus that a return was a necessity.
Thiriez makes amazing beer. They have one of the best yeast strains I have ever tasted. Grassy, earthly, active – but clean – it’s always a different experience under each cap. The Noel is phenomenal. It has a clean, yet significant scent. It packs a mouthful of cherries, strawberries, vanilla, and hay. There is no denying the French farmhouse styling – and we love it. A lively beer with a fresh scent yum.
All in all, it’s the best Thiriez brew we’ve had. Kudos to Bottleworks for pulling this guy in. If it’s on the shelf – it’s a must buy.
It was a good ride. Look for a repeat, with all new beer, next year.
Stop #1 Water Street Brewing Co.:
It was a sunny yet windy summer day in July when we first stepped foot in Water Street Brewing Co.’s pub. Just in time for happy hour, we take a seat at the bar (would we have it any other way?).
The late afternoon sun streamed through the windows begging for a drink. As gusts of wind bellowed through the open bar door, a live banjo played to the rhythm of the outdoors.
From the moment you step foot into the wide open space you can’t help but notice the beautifully carved wooden bar and dollar bills stapled to the incredibly high ceiling. After ordering our first round of many to come, we sat back wondering how they got up there.
Queen Ninas Imperial IPA, 7%- bitter right off the tap. This beer opens up with a natural hoppy aroma. It is fresh, smooth and spikes the back of your throat with a tang of bitterness.
Mayor McPrior’s Irish Stout: medium brown in color. Coffee flavor with a hint of nuts. Slightly creamy but not thick. It has a nice, drinkable consistency.
Panama Red: stout like qualities but lighter in color. Hoppy and bitter combined with a prevalent malt flavor.
Accompanying our beers were a platter of well- crafted buffalo wings. Plump pieces of chicken smothered in spicy homemade buffalo sauce with fresh garlic were sprinkled with Parmesan cheese and scallions. Our experience was complete.
Water Street Brewing Co. is located at 639 Water Street, Port Townsend, WA 98368. A community brewpub supported and loved by locals. Check out Waterstreet’s winter beers, such as Burr’s Frosty Winter Ale and Chocolate Oatmeal Stout at the Winter Beer Festival the weekend of December 4, 2009 at Hales Brewery in Seattle, WA.
However, if this post has struck a cord and you MUST visit Water Street Brewing Co. in all its glory, then gear up for the 6th Annual Strange Beer Festival in Port Townsend, WA. Let the beer warm your soul in January as the streets surrounding the brew-pub are filled with belated holiday gifts of beer. Check back with Beer Blotter as we will keep you informed once the details about this event are released. Hope to see you there!
Stop #2 Port Townsend Brewery Co.
Upon arriving at Port Townsend Brewery, we walk through an outdoor beer garden equip with a live band and plenty of people into the tasting room. Peanuts are up for grabs on the bar and we are liking this place already. The tasting room/bar area is small with wooden walls, ceiling and bar top. Reminiscent of an isolated cabin, we feel on the outskirts of society, in the wilderness, eating peanuts and enjoying a beer.
Hop Diggity IPA, Cask Conditioned: incredible aroma of flowers, fruit. It smells as though it would taste like syrup. Instead it is crisp, not too bitter or hoppy in relation to other IPAs.
Strait Stout: black in color. Malty, sweet. Thick and smooth with a well rounded, crisp finish.
The only food this small bar sells include the following items: nuts, mixed nuts, and more nuts. So come with a full stomach or leave hungry.
Port Townsend Brewing Co, is located at 330 10th Street, #C, Port Townsend, WA 98368. During the warmer months, Port Townsend Brewing Co. is a short distance away from various campsites such as Old Fort Townsend and Fort Warden State Park.
Port Townsend, Washington is located on the Olympic Peninsula just across the Pudget Sound from Seattle.
I was very pleased to see the entries from some of our favorites. The beer list can be found here. Here are some snapshots:
Iron Horse (a group favorite) – The Ellensberg shop is putting out their IPA and their Mocha Death (YES). I am very happy to see that they aren’t simply pouring their normal releases. They simply always show up for beer events with something good.
Black Raven Brewing – Second Sight Scotch Ale, score. Citrus & Spice Trickster IPA, yep. Seriously pumped to try both of these. I was excited to see that they will be the house IPA over at Beveridge Place Pub.
Schooner Exact Brewing Co. Xman beer is my friend. Nothing sums up the Holidays more like a damn good xmas ale. (Great Lakes = best). SE has two xmas beers (Hoppy Holidays Winter Ale and Hoppy the Woodsman) and a Mystery beer. I like it.
Snipes Mountain – To keep a steady mix, snipes is bringing their fall beer, which I might add were both very much admired this season by the public. Pumpkin Death 08 (Cask Bourbon) & 09 Fresh Hop IPA (this is awesome).
Water Street Brewing Co – Heck yeah. I don’t care that Skip Madsen left. He is doing well over there with his Breakaway IPA. But, this place is still my #1 place to get a beer in the area. The life of that place is amazing on a Friday in the summer. Anyways, Burr’s Frosty Winter and a Chocolate Oatmeal Stout ought to do the trick. Nice to see them out and about in Seattle (rare)
Hope to see you all there. Seattle Weekly ran a story that tickets are moving fast, and there is an up charge at the door. Tickets are 23.00 right now and can be obtained through this site.
Hope to see you all out and about.