Hootenanny Ribs

Hootenanny Ribs
Perfection on my Traeger Pro 34 wood pellet grill

Saturday, December 17, 2016

The Twelve Beers of Christmas 2016

The holiday season is upon us. It is a joyous time of year for family, friends, food, festivities... and beer. Winter calls for big, warming brews and for the annual Twelve Beers of Christmas. For the ninth consecutive year the best offerings from friends, special releases, beer trips and all means of procurement are included in this annual ritual. To be included in the Twelve Beers of Christmas all beers in the twelve must be new to me, having not enjoyed them before. Starting on Christmas day and following the Twelve Days of Christmas, these selected dozen will be savored, enjoyed, and cherished. Fill you favorite drinking glass and enjoy the Twelve Beers of Christmas for 2016 and follow the progression on Untappd, Twitter, and Instagram






1. Allagash Odyssey 2010


This Odyssey will accompany Christmas dinner with my family. Ale Aged in Oak Barrels - yes, please.




From the brewer:

"Allagash Odyssey is a dark wheat beer aged for four months, a portion in oak barrels and the remainder in stainless tanks. The grain bill includes 2-row barley, malted wheat and a generous amount of roasted barley. This deep brown beer boasts an aroma of black treacle and raisin. Candi sugar, a traditional ingredient in some Belgian beer, is added during the boil. The flavor hints at dates, with a mildly roasted finish imparted by aging in both medium and heavy toasted American oak barrels. The finish is dry, punctuated by vanilla.

Food Pairings: Almond Crusted Chicken, Ribeye, Toffee Pudding, Crème Brulée, White Chocolate"



2. Tyranena Tapping the Sugarbush


This is a gift from the PfoxyJohn AKA Beer Santa. Very much looking forward to every aspect of this beer: maple, Bourbon barrel-aged, vanilla, caramel, chocolate. My favorite beer name of the dozen. 




Notes from Tyranena:

"Tapping The Sugarbush is an Imperial Maple Porter aged in Bourbon Barrels. The sweetness of maple syrup is masterfully blended with the richness of chocolate and caramel malts. Notes of vanilla and oak from barrel-aging further heighten this north wood's pleasure."


3. Lakefront Beer Line Barleywine


Another Wisconsin offering from PfoxyJohn, another big beer. Cold winter evenings call for barleywines. This will be a slow sipper.




Lakefront says:
"Beer Line is an off-the-rail barley wine style ale: rich, malty, multi-layered, and copper-amber. The off-white head liberates aromas of strawberry, dried-fruit, grapefruit, and papaya. The smooth, malt-forward flavor is equally complex, with undertones of caramel and toffee. Not overly sweet by any means, organic Bravo hops balance the malt syrup sweetness, finishing slightly spicy with a pleasurable alcohol warmth."


4. Blackberry Farm Blackberry Rye


Blackberry Farm Brewery is turning out some fantastic Farmhouse-style ales and they are in my back yard. Nice to have another very good local option especially one focusing on Belgian-style ales. Blackberry Rye is from my daughter Ashlyn who knows I coveted it greatly.




Blackberry Farm states:

"This offering in our Native Series was brewed with select heritage barley and rye malts and fermented with a wild strain of native yeast harvested from honeysuckle blossoms found on Blackberry Farm’s 9,200 acre estate. A secondary fermentation with blackberries followed by additional aging in Tennessee whiskey barrels lends notes of dark fruit and oak to this medium bodied ale’s malt profile, accentuated by a mild tartness and earthy complexity from the wild native yeast."


5. Sierra Nevada Cherry Chocolate Stout


I love cherries. I love chocolate. I love stouts. My wife may steal this one though. Picked up this offering on a recent trip to Sierra Nevada in Mills River, NC just outside Asheville. If you have not visited this beer Mecca you are missing out on possibly the most impressive brewery in the Southern and Eastern United States. This beer also happens to be Sierra Nevada's 36th Anniversary special beer. 





From Sierra Nevada:
"It's our 36th anniversary! We're celebrating with our new Cherry Chocolate Stout! Cherries and chocolate are a classic combination and perfectly match this rich imperial stout. We brewed this beer with Bing cherries and cherry juice, then aged it on cocoa nibs, to bring out notes of dark chocolate and a hint of sweet cherry. Cheers!"


6. Sierra Nevada Trip in the Woods Barrel Aged Narwhal

"We aged this rich, chocolatey Imperial Stout in bourbon barrels with a mix of both red currants and black currants for a pop of sweet and tart flavor. The deep, rich notes of the stout blend well with the berries in barrels to create complex flavors of coca and coconut with a mellow fruit undertone."


Another Sierra Nevada on the list. Yes they are one of my favorite breweries. Narwhal and Barrel-aged Narwhal have passed my lips before with great love. Now a barrel-aged Narwhal with red and black currant additions? Game on.


7. Jackie O's Dark Apparition

A fitting end to 2016 with a Dark Apparition. To many 2016 was a very dark year. This beer is the perfect way to stomp out the life from 2016 and welcome a new year, killing the ghosts of beers past. This one is highly recommended. 


Notes from Jackie O's:
"Russian Imperial Stouts are one of brewmaster Brad Clark’s favorite styles of beer and Dark Apparition is without a doubt his favorite beer to brew. We stuff 2200 pounds of malt into our 20bbl mash tun and by the end of the mash, dark malts are spilling onto the brew house floor! Brad includes great flavors he admires in his favorite Russian Imperial Stouts like chocolate, coffee, roast, dark fruit, caramel, and some nice earthy/spicy hop character. With a midnight black color and chewy, dextrinous body, Dark Apparition is a huge beer with tons of character."


8. Oskar Blues Bourbon Barrel-Aged Java Ten Fidy

What? First there is Ten Fidy, one of the best Imperial Stouts. Then there is Bourbon Barrel-Aged Ten Fidy which takes this fantastic beer to a new level. Now there is Barrel-Aged JAVA Ten Fidy: BBA Ten Fidy with Hotbox Coffee addition. Happy freaking New Year to me. This should jump start my New Year's Day; will probably need that java...



9. Boulevard Smokestack Series: Imperial Stout X - Tart Cherry 2015

More cherries.Yes! Picked this one up during vacation at Pawley's Island, SC. It got past the Hootenanny and now finds a spot on the Twelve Beers of Christmas. Another one to share with my wife.


Boulevard says:
"Our special treat for lovers of big, complex stouts, the Imperial Stout "X" series offers a year-long roster of limited releases, each with a significant variation. This time out we spotlight the addition of tart cherries to fermentation as well as a lactic souring on the brewhouse. The result is a perfect marriage of robust, smoky maltiness and bracing tartness."


10. The Commons Unconquerable Sun 

"Our 4th Anniversary Imperial Stout aged in Bourbon barrels with apple brandy soaked hazelnuts."


Big love for every Commons ale I have tried. This one was sent to me from my good friend El Travieso who happens to work for The Commons Brewery in Portland, OR. The Unconquerable Sun has been saved specifically for this occasion. Read the description again: "aged in Bourbon barrels with apple brandy soaked hazelnuts." 


Giddy.






11. Wicked Weed Dark Art Rum Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout with Brett


Wicked Weed has become one of the best breweries in the South, nay, the nation. Sours, experimental fruit beers, barrel aged monsters, IPA's, farmhouse ales, all delicious. Another great beer friend and local craft beer stalwart, Jason, brought this 
Brettanomyces fermented imperial stout aged in rum barrels back for me after 2016's release. It was destined to be on this list. 




12. Sierra Nevada Alpha Hops Society Islay Black Ale Aged in Single-Malt Scotch Whisky Barrels

"The island of Islay (pronounced “EYE-lah”) is the southernmost part of the Inner Hebrides archipelago off of Scotland’s west coast. It has become a major center for the production of single-malt Scotch whisky, and especially famous for the ultra-smoky, seafaring qualities of several of the brands produced there.
We got ahold of some (extremely wet) barrels formerly used to age one of the island’s most popular whiskies, and aged a rich, inky, imperial stout in them for about 8 months.
Boy-oh-boy, if you like the peaty, smoky, saline Scotch whiskies, this is the beer for you.
It has notes of wood smoke up-front that back-off into notes of rich baker’s cocoa and espresso from the base beer, blended with the flavors of earthy peat and some additional smoke on the finish. The richness and sweetness of the beer make a great backbone for the spirit flavors to carry through the palate. This would be the perfect match for a windy, rainy night and a nice cigar (if you’re into that sort of thing.) This is the beer that Brontë’s Heathcliff would drink (if he were not a fictional character.)
Sláinte."




Bottle number 083/575, and there were really only around 350 bottles according to Sierra Nevada. This one is not for the faint of heart: peat, Scotch, smoke, wood. Should be a fantastic companion to smoked meats. Yes, I believe it will be. Alpha indeed. A great way to finish the Twelve Beers of Christmas for 2016. Sláinte.









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

Twelve Beers of Christmas 2013

Twelve Beers of Christmas 2014

Twelve Beers of Christmas 2015