December 16, 2011

Beers Of The Season!

Source: via Anna on Pinterest

OK yes, we all know I LOVE wine and champagne... but this girl LOVES a good beer too! I found this article on CNN.COM (yes, dont act so surprised that I read and I thought I would share it with you guys! I have had quite a few of these but there are a few I have never had... sounds like a challenge to me! ENJOY!

via nathan berrong
Berrong on Beer: Brews for a hoppy holiday

Nathan Berrong works at CNN's satellite desk and this is the fourth installment of his beer column. He Tweets at @nathanberrong and logs beers at Untappd. Drink up.
Everyone has their own way of welcoming Christmas. For some, it’s putting up a tree or shopping on the day after Thanksgiving. For me, and beer nerds around the world, it’s purchasing the first of many Christmas and winter-release beers. These beers are made to please the taste buds and warm the body from the cold temperatures outside.
Traditionally, this is accomplished from adding spices like cinnamon and nutmeg or adding bitter ingredients like coffee and dark chocolate. Some brewers have bucked this trend and instead of brewing the more traditional Christmas-style beers, they brew their own interpretations of them, which include styles like IPAs or wheat beers. Regardless of the style, these are the beers I look most forward to coming out each year.Below, I have selected 11 winter only-release beers that include a wide range of styles. Although they’re not all Christmas-specific beers, each one of them would make a stellar last-minute gift or to enjoy with family and friends around the holiday table. I’ve also included one at the end that’s brewed by our fellow Jewish brethren. Most of the beers I’ve selected are heavy beers and contain a good amount of alcohol. Because of this, drink these beers somewhere between cellar temperature and room temperature or around 55 – 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Enjoy.

St. Bernardus Christmas AleI consider this the staple of all Christmas beers, not only because of its literal name, but also because it embodies everything a good Christmas beer should be - complex in flavor, beautiful in sight and pairs exceptionally well with food (especially holiday foods like ham, turkey, and sweet potatoes). The taste of the St. Bernardus Christmas Ale is mostly dark fruits like figs and raisons and has a touch of caramel that warms up as it goes down. Truly delicious.

N’ice Chouffe (pictured)This is probably my favorite Christmas beer and is easily the one I look most forward to coming out each holiday season. The Achouffe (translates to “gnome”) brewery is obsessed with gnomes and puts them on all of their bottles, glasses, and signage. Maybe it’s just me, but there’s something awfully winter wonderland-esque about gnomes which is why I love drinking this beer when it’s extra cold outside. N’ice Chouffe is brewed with thyme and curaƧao and has flavors of cinnamon and nutmeg with a strong alcohol presence. At 10% ABV, it’s sure to warm up even the coldest of hearts.

Gouden Carolus NoelThe history of Het Anker, the brewery who makes Gouden Carolus, dates all the way back to 1471 when a group of religious women, called Beguines, began brewing beer. Different styles of beer were brewed according to the seasons but in 1964 they stopped production of their Christmas beer. Someone at the brewery wised up (thankfully) and in 2002 they brought back their Christmas beer to the delight of beer geeks everywhere. This beer pours a dark red color and is brewed with six different kinds of secret herbs and spices, but I would bet one of them is anise due to the strong licorice flavor that’s present.

Corsendonk ChristmasThis holiday release from the Corsendonk brewery is a little lighter in body than it’s Belgian friends listed above, but what it lacks in body it makes up for in taste. It’s flavor can be subtle at first, but the more you drink it, the more you begin to taste the complexity of everything going on in this dark ale. It’s brewed with roasted malts and a touch of coriander and makes for a great beer now or stored away to be enjoyed years later.

The Bruery Four Calling BirdsWhen the Bruery began in 2008, they started a tradition that has become one of the most talked about beer releases each year. It’s their "12 Days of Christmas" project, which started with Partridge in a Pear Tree (if you have one of these you can part with, get in touch with me ASAP!) and will end in 2019 with 12 Drummers Drumming. The idea is to keep one of each release, or as close to it as possible, and then in 2019 have the most amazing beer party, tasting each of the 12 beers in the series. This year’s offering is brewed with gingerbread spices in the style of a winter warmer. I haven’t tasted this one yet but if it’s anything like ones before it, it will be outstanding.

Karl Strauss Two TortugasKarl Strauss follows in the footsteps of The Bruery with its second installment in their own 12 Days series, but with a twist. Instead of naming each beer after the literal 12 Days of Christmas, Karl Strauss names their beers after something related to their home, San Diego. The first was last year’s “Parrot in Palm Tree” and this year’s release is the Spanish word for turtles, Tortuga. This one has a syrupy mouthfeel with a strong toffee presence and is brewed in the quadrupel style. And if you need any more reason to check it out, it won a Bronze medal at this year’s Great American Beer Festival!

Odell Isolation AleOdell Brewery is located in Fort Collins, Colorado, so they know a thing or two about cold weather. This beer isn’t specific to Christmas per se, but it is specifically meant to be enjoyed in colder temperatures. It’s brewed in the style of a winter warmer and has a malty caramel and toast flavor with a subtle hop finish. At 6% ABV it’s one of the few on this list you can drink quickly, but why rush a great thing?

Sierra Nevada CelebrationIt goes without saying that Sierra Nevada knows what it’s doing when it comes to IPAs and this one is no different. It’s my favorite IPA of theirs and although India Pale Ales are usually associated with spring and summer, this one totally works as their Christmas/winter release. I think that's because of all of the pine flavors and aromas that come through with this beer, and it’s also extremely crisp, just like walking outside on a cold winter morning. This one should be served colder than the rest because it’s an IPA, which can taste a little skunky if it gets too warm. Serve this one around 45 degrees.

Bell’s Winter White This winter-only release is brewed in Kalamazoo, Michigan, but relies heavily on the wheat-loving Belgians for its taste. It’s brewed with Belgian yeast and contains barley and wheat malts, which give it a banana- and clove-like taste and aroma. When poured into a glass the beer has a murky appearance and is sure to please wheat beer fans everywhere. This one also deviates from the norm of winter beers not only because of its style, but also because it doesn’t contain any spices. Some of the best beers in the world are ones that do not play by the rules and this beer is a testament to that.

Dogfish Head Chicory StoutSam Calagione, founder and President of Dogfish Head, is probably the most famous and recognizable person in the beer world today. This is due large in part to the short-lived Discovery Channel show, "Brew Masters", but also because of Sam’s creativity in his beers and his passion for championing beer in America, not only on the streets, but also in Washington. On top of all that, he’s the nicest person you’ll ever meet. When this guy brews beer, people pay attention. And people have been paying attention to his winter release, Chicory Stout, since 1995. This is a stout like no other and is brewed with chicory, organic Mexican coffee, St. John’s wart and licorice root. All of these together make for a bitter coffee and dark chocolate taste with a touch of smokiness. It rules!

Shmaltz Jewbelation 15I don’t want to leave out my Jewish brothers and sisters, so here’s a beer just for you (although this beer is really for anyone with discerning taste buds). The Shmaltz brewery began brewing “chosen” beer 15 years ago and starting in year 8, they released their first Jewbelation anniversary beer with 8 different malts, 8 different hops, and clocking in at 8% ABV. They’ve continued this routine ever since and this year’s Jewbelation is their most ambitious and arguably the best. It has an intense malt flavor which overpowers the 15 different hops varieties in the beer. It goes down very smooth and hides its alcohol extremely well, so be careful as you sip on this one. Shalom.

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