My "Twelve Beers of Christmas" started in 2008 and has become an annual holiday tradition. Throughout each year, many beers are acquired and after deliberation and culling, the final worthy dozen are chosen. The main requirements to be on the list are to be: 1) a beer that I have not tried before; 2) a highly coveted or rare beer, and; 3) a beer style that I enjoy. The traditional Twelve Days of Christmas are followed, with the first beer being tasted on Christmas day, the second on December 26, and one every day through January 5th up to the Epiphany. Now, in order of appearance, let me introduce my twelve Beers of Christmas 2014:
1. Affligem Noël Christmas Ale
I love Belgian Abbey Ales. I plan on thoroughly enjoying this one; it is pairing with our Christmas dinner. From the brewer: "For the season we offer you our best wishes and especially delicious Ale. Rich and dark like our Dubbel. Sumptuous and smooth like our Tripel. Enjoy."
2. The Commons Fleur De Blanc
The Commons Brewery Fleur de Blanc is a "seasonal farmhouse ale finished with elderflowers, rose hips and rose petals." Well-crafted saisons are such a pleasure to drink. The Commons Brewery is producing some phenomenal Belgian style ales. This one should be no exception.
3. Westbrook Dark Helmet
Westbrook Brewing is making some really tasty beers in some very interesting styles. Dark Helmet is a "German-style black lager (or Schwarzbier) brewed with 10% malted rye, chocolate and Carafa malts."
"May the Schwarz be with you!"
4. Base Camp S'more Stout
I had the pleasure of visiting Base Camp Brewing on my beer trip to Portland. I did not try the S'more Stout on that trip and have regretted it since. From Base Camp:
"The S’more Stout is an absolute all-star: Aromas of chocolate, coffee, fig, and smoke invite you in to a gigantic maltiness that is distinct in its smooth and refined character, with flavors of chocolate and hints of smoke mingling with rich caramel, fruit, and warming alcohol. Top with a roasted marshmallow and you have the ultimate S’more experience!"
I'm definitely adding a marshmallow to mine. My wife may steal this beer. I'll share though. Dessert anyone?
5. Highland 20th Anniversary Scotch Ale
Scotch ales are a favorite style of mine and Highland is one of my most-liked breweries. This Scotch ale will be a delicious way to celebrate the holidays while honoring my Scots-Irish ancestry and Oscar Wong's Highland Brewing Company. Their offerings were some of the first craft beers that I tried on my craft beer journey. Cheers to twenty years!
"Rich caramel and roasted notes blend with a subtle hop nose to create an ale suited for the finest occasions. Medium-bodied, it has a brown-red hue from a Caramel malt and roasted barley. It is brewed with the finest traditional Scottish malts and English Fuggle hops. A late addition of Sterling hops imparts a slightly spicy nose, ever so subtle."
6. Goose Island The Muddy Imperial Stout
This had to be on the list: a Blues-inspired Imperial Stout? Are you kidding me? This is right up my alley - a tribute to the greatest Bluesman ever. I will be listening to my Muddy Waters box set when I enjoy this one. Thank you Seamus.
"Brewed with molasses, brewer’s licorice, and Belgian dark rock candi sugar, The Muddy is an imperial stout with amplified sweetness for a taste as distinctive as the Chicago blues that inspired its creation."
7. Logsdon Seizoen Bretta
Another sasion to appreciate, this one from Logsdon Farmhouse Ales in Oregon, and it brought Brettanomyces with it. It's going to be a New Years' Eve party on my tastebuds!
This unfiltered sasion is "naturally refermented and carbonated with select yeast strains, producing fruity and spicy flavors that are balanced by hops and soft malt character. Special Brettanomyces yeast provides added dryness and crisp complexity to the Seizoen Bretta. Bottle conditioned with pear juice for a natural carbonation."
8. Harviestoun Ola Dubh 16
(pronounced ‘ola-doo’ and Gaelic for ‘black oil’)
"Tasty tasty motor oil." That's how I've described the Ola Dubh ales from Harviestoun Brewery in Scotland. It is an Old Ale aged in oak casks formerly used to mature Highland Park 16 Year Old Single Malt Whisky. This one has been on my wish list for some time.
"Ola Dubh 16 takes on distinct whisky notes, perfectly complementing its roasty, toasty bitterness. There’s plenty to enjoy on the nose which is a classy blend of whisky, sweet roasted malts, earthy woodland and vanilla. The flavour is rich; loaded with sweet-roasted dark malts and coffee. And just at the finish there’s nice, smoky peat hints."
9. Dieu du Ciel Rigor Mortis Abt
Dieu du Ciel in Montreal brews some fantastic world-class beers. If you find anything from this brewery, buy it and savor it. The brewery describes this Belgian-style Quadruple ale as a "strong brown ale inspired by the beer brewed by Belgian Trappist monks. Very little bitterness, this beer has intense malty and sweet flavours, mixed with the taste of chocolate and caramel. It presents complex red fruit and spice flavours due to the type of yeast that is used during the brewing process. This beer is at its best only after it has aged for six months."
10. North Coast Old Stock Ale 2011
This one came to me in a beer trade in 2011 from a California BeerPal, jlozier. Yes, 2011. It had a note attached.
"Like a fine port, Old Stock Ale is intended to be laid down. With an original gravity of over 1.100 and a generous hopping rate, Old Stock Ale is well-designed to round out and mellow with age. It's brewed with classic Maris Otter malt and Fuggles and East Kent Goldings hops, all imported from England."
11. Wicked Weed Dark Arts Bourbon-Barrel Aged Wild Imperial Stout
Wicked Weed is wicked hot right now. The newer kid on the block is also the Einstein of Asheville - genius! This very hard-to-get beer came into my hands from my good friend Jason. Dark Arts is an American wild, bourbon barrel aged, imperial stout. It is brewed right up to the North Carolina alcohol cap of 15% abv. Head of Wicked Weed Brewing Operations, Walt Dickinson, uses Brettanomyces yeast to reduce sweetness and dry out the beer. Dark Arts was brewed in October 2013, and racked to bourbon barrels for almost a year. What's not to like?
12. AleSmith Barrel-Aged Old Numbskull
This Barrel-Aged version of Old Numbskull, an American Barleywine Ale, is "matured in premium bourbon barrels for up to one year to develop its rich and intense flavor profile. The result is an amazingly complex beer that balances the caramel and toasted malt character of the with notes of vanilla, oak, and bourbon from the barrel aged process."
It has been on my wish list for a very long time. It will be sipped ever-so-slowly to fully enjoy its wonderfulness. I better share this one...
There it is, my Twelve Beers of Christmas 2014. I will also so check in to each of these beers on Untappd. I hope you enjoy your holiday beers. Be sure to share yours with friends and family. I could not enjoy these beers without the help from very good friends and the patience and understanding of my beautiful wife.
Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and Happy Holidays!
Twelve Beers of Christmas Past:
Twelve Beers of Christmas 2008
1. Anchor Our Special Ale (2008)
2. Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale
3. Houblon Chouffe Dobbelen IPA Tripel
4. Great Lakes Christmas Ale
5. Bison Winter Warmer
6. Samuel Adams Chocolate Bock
7. Delirium Tremens
8. New Glarus Apple Ale
9. Corsendonk Pater (Abbey Brown Ale)
10. Corsendonk Agnus (Abbey Pale Ale)
11. Thirsty Dog Siberian Night Imperial Stout
12. Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Ale (2008)
Twelve Beers of Christmas 2009
1. Thirsty Dog 12 Dogs Christmas Ale
2. Goose Island Christmas Ale
3. Tommyknocker St. Nicks Cocoa Porter
4. Avery Old Jubilation Ale
5. Rinkuškiai Missing Elf
6. Fort Collins Double Chocolate Stout
7. Ken Schmidt / Maui / Stone Kona Coffee Macadamia Coconut Porter
8. Rochefort Trappistes 6
9. Rogue Santas Private Reserve Ale
10. Jolly Pumpkin Noel de Calabaza
11. Cantillon Iris
12. Lurgashall Christmas Mead
Twelve Beers of Christmas 2010
1. Spaten Optimator
2. Dogfish Head Olde School Barleywine
3. Ass Kisser Double IPA
4. Stone 14th Anniversary Emperial IPA
5. Terrapin Wake-n-Bake Coffee Oatmeal Imperial Stout
6. Depot Street The Limited Maple Pecan Porter
7. AleSmith YuleSmith – Summer
8. a. Oskar Blues Gordon / b. Oskar Blues Gubna
9. Maredsous 10
10. Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Urbock
11. Sierra Nevada 30th Anniversary Fritz & Ken Ale
12. Victory Old Horizontal
Twelve Beers of Christmas 2011
1. AleSmith Yulesmith – Winter
2. Brew Kettle White Rajah
3. Brooklyn Black Ops
4. Capital Eternal Flame
5. Dogfish Head Miles Davis' Bitches Brew
6. Founders Backwoods Bastard
7. Hoppin' Frog DORIS The Destroyer Double Imperial Stout
8. Lagunitas Hairy Eyeball Ale
9. Odell Mountain Standard '09
10. Olde Hickory Bourbon Barrel Aged Bardstown Ale
11. Ommegang Brasserie D'Achouffe Gnomegang
12. Three Floyds Dark Lord Imperial Stout
Twelve Beers of Christmas 2012
1. De Ranke Pere Noel
2. St. Bernardus Christmas Ale
3. Hopworks Organic Abominable Winter Ale
4. Lompoc C-Son's Greetings
5. Midnight Sun CoHoHo Imperial IPA
6. N'Ice Chouffe
7. Ninkasi Sleigh'r Dark Double Alt
8. Oakshire Ill-Tempered Gnome
9. Pelican Bad Santa
10. Port Brewing Santa's Little Helper
11. Samuel Adams Merry Mischief Gingerbread Stout
12. The Bruery 5 Golden Rings
The Twelve Beers of Christmas 2013