Knew it already though. Cheers!
By now you have started to see winter warmers encroaching on the retail shelves, if not quite on taps yet, near where you live. This is a seasonal favorite of mine and due for a HTBN taste-off sometime after Thanksgiving. Sorry, but I am still finishing off some summer beers and a recent stocking of harvest ales and pumpkin ales.
But then, that is the beauty of craft brewing – so much variety and so many good beers to taste.
Which brings me to the topic of November and December winter beer festivals. The big ones around my part of the country are the Holiday Ale Festival in Portland, Oregon, and the Winter Beer Fest in Seattle (new venue is at Magnussun Park near Sand Point). T’was a time when a body could do both, as they were separated by a week or two. Not so this year. They are on the same weekend (first weekend in December).
Granted, the Portland event is a five-day-for-one-price extravaganza that starts on a Wednesday and runs through Sunday. You could do a Wed/Thur trip to Portland and potentially still have a day to recover before the Friday/Saturday event in Seattle.
However, considering the 25-4 medal-drubbing that Oregon brewers laid on WA brewers at the GABF a couple of weeks ago, I am more inclined to choose Portland this year. That, and the fact that I can fairly easily meander to the fine WA pubs at leisure during the season to sample the local fare. These used to be pub-only and some festival-only concoctions dreamed up by brewers for sipping whilst sitting around the fireplace. They have growingly become consumer commodities and are being bottled/canned and sent out to bottle shops and local groceries.
Looking forward to two Kulshan Brewing offerings; Kitten Mittens and Royal Tenenbaum, Cozy Sweater from Iron Horse Brewing, Waitsburg Winter Warmer from Laht Neppur,
Speaking of which, here are a few winter warmers that are worthy of a taste this season, and let me know if you are paring these with any fruitcakes, mince pies or gingerbread houses.
Enjoy the season! Be responsible. Use designated drivers. Tell your friends about beers you like.
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As for my personal preferences – it just depends on what you serve and how you prepare it. If you like it spicy, look for a good IPA in the 70-80 IBU range. Winter warmers come in a variety of styles and include some spices that may complement not only the bird, but the cranberry, stuffing and potato. If you can still find some pumpkin ales at your local bottle shop, they also complement this type of holiday meal very well.
“With a love for the sinister and the underground, Speakeasy operates out of a corner of this city once known as Butchertown.” That would be a portion of San Francisco known today as Bayview. In 1868 a group of butchers purchased 81 acres of submerged and waterlogged tidelands from the State of California to establish a “Butcher’s Reservation” to slaughter animals. After year of development it is now home for a great SF brewery = Speakeasy.
On tap at the Puyallup River Alehouse tonight is:
- Speakeasy Payback Porter
- Speakeasy Betrayal Imperial Red
- Speakeasy Big Daddy IPA
I sampled all three and they are very good beers, true to their respective styles. None over the top. All very drinkable. If you are in the Bay Area, or visiting there, stop in at the Speakeasy (Tuesday thru Saturday) taproom or at one of the other locations where they have taps in Washington, Oregon and California.
Also on tap are 12 – yes – twelve – count ‘em beers produced by Puyallup River Brewing. Now THAT is awesome!.
The wind whipped across the back deck, scattering brooms and tree pruners and firing fir and cedar branchlets like arrows. Not too long after, The lights flickered – went out for two seconds – came back on – flickered again and went out for good.
Was it a coincidence? Foggy Noggin Brewery announced the release of their 2013 Butch’s Brew a couple of days earlier. This is a great nut brown ale brewed with hazelnuts that brewer/manager Jim Jamison roasts himself. It is a winter seasonal only around for 6-8 weeks. “Go get some!” said the voice in my head.
As I stared at my 51-inch Samsung TV, now completely black, I had to agree that the voice was right and I packed up Bruce the Brew Dog and headed north on I-405 for about a half hour drive to Bothell and Foggy Noggin.
Now, Jim brews out of a shed in his back yard and his tasting room is his garage. There were lights on in the garage, but many, many branches littered his front yard. He was out of power for four hours that morning – right in the middle of a brew cycle with half the batch in the fermenter and half still in the brew pot.
He was pouring nearly all of his beers, now with eight taps. I lined up to exchange my empty growler for a new one of Butch. “Look in the cooler,” said the voice in my head. Again I took the advice and there smiling at me was a 22oz bomber of Powder Keg, Jim’s absolutely wonderful Stout, and a growler of Oski Wow-wow – a well-balanced Scotch Ale. He was pouring Christmas Duck – delicious Porter, but my resistance stiffened – actually my wallet suddenly was empty. He graciously gave me samples of Wee Wee an amped up (9.5% ABV) Scotch Ale and a new brew, Mr. Chips.
After some delightful conversation, and gentle ribbing about Oregon State Beaver drubbing by USC the night before, Bruce alerted me to the fact that he was still in the car and need a trip to the bushes.
So we did that.
On tap was my personal favorite, the Masonry Oatmeal Stout, but also intriguing was a coffee IPA, the Field Trip Pumpkin Ale and the Chocolate Porter with Pumpkin.
All were delightful brews to sample while watching the various college football games on the projection TV.
Next up - Triplehorn Brewing – Dark. Very Dark. Power. OUT. How about Dirty Bucket? Open, but cash only because the network is still down. I am cashless so I go away in search of a cash machine. Lots of dark in Woodinville to Kirkland. Finally found a cash machine but by now, the Bellevue Brewery is my closest road trip destination.
No problem. They have two of my favorite beers all time; the Oatmeal Stout and their Scotch Ale are top-rung choices. And their food is superb.
Oh oh. There are lights, but hardly any parking. Sounders FC game. It is crowded. It’s the playoffs vs Portland. Oh oh again. It’s a brewery but four of their six flagship beers are drained. Too much bottling and keg distribution off-premises. I tell my server that this is unacceptable. The brewery should be the last place to run out of beer. Tsk. Tsk.
He tries to spin me on why this is a good thing. Don’t waste your time, buddy. I have worked for some of the best spin doctors in the world. I know a pathetic attempt to gild the lily when I hear it.
The good news is that the lights are back on at home, and All Things Wine has the BBC Scotch Ale for growler fills. Also the Oatmeal Stout is still here on Nitro. I order that. I also order the meatloaf sandwich and a cup of chili. OK. All is good. Yum.