Friday, December 19, 2014

Oh, The Weather Outside is Frightful so I'll stay in and Drink this Beer!

What a week its been for the seasonal and holiday beers. Let's get right to it, shall we?

I started out at a restaurant downtown called Rhubarb so when I saw they had a rhubarb saison on their menu I decided I really should give that a try. Saisons aren't on my list of go-to beers to it isn't often that I drink them at all.It was from a brewery called Ilkley.

Frankly, I have no idea whether or not someone would classify a rhubarb as a wintery vegetable but it isn't something I drink often so I'll call it good. This beer was out of the UK and I found it slightly sweet, not very sour, and very refreshing. I would recommend this for someone who doesn't normally drink this style of beer.

And next, we stopped at Wicked Weed, a favorite Asheville brewpub. Downstairs they have the most incredible and intimate bar set up. Met up with some friends and had a couple of drinks there.

I choose their Comet, the third in their series named for the Reindeer. However, the beer isn't really reindeer themed at all. In fact, this one is brewed with myrrh, frankincense, and gold. No, really - real gold. Here's the funny part: myrrh is probably my favorite sent. I burn myrrh incense all the time because I absolutely love the stuff. But in a beer - well, not so much. I didn't absolutely hate this but ingredients that aren't typically edible take a little getting use to.

So then I moved on to a beer called the Frai Belgian Pale. My friend modeled (or ridiculed) this beer for me. And you know what - this isn't even remotely a holiday or winter seasonal but it was so absolutely wonderful that I thought I might as well include it. It was fresh, fruity, and not all that bitter. It was also pretty and very, very drinkable. I would have had several if I hadn't been on a quest to try all the seasonal beers.

Here's the lesson, kids. There aren't really rules when it comes to drinking beer. Well, except for "drink responsibly." If you prefer pale ales, drink them all year long. You don't have to only drink dark beers just because it's wintertime.

A few days later, a friend had left this single beer in my fridge. It looked delicious and I couldn't wait to try it. I had never heard of the brewery, Barrel Trolley, which is based in New York. This Nut Brown Ale was described as having lots of natural hazelnut flavors. So, I poured it in a glass (that iron spike thing in the photo is a sweet bottle opener made by a real blacksmith who used an old railroad spike) and enjoyed.

When I say "enjoyed" I really mean it. It was a delicious, nutty and malty brown ale with just enough hops to balance out the flavors. I would drink this beer again.

So that brings us to another outing with friends. If you can't tell, I find beer exploration to be a very social activity. I love getting together with other people and talking about the different flavors and complexities. It is good to live in a town where there are thousands of other beer nerds around.

Anywho - this beer is the Oskar Blues Christmas Chub. It is based on their Old Chub Scotch Ale which is already rich and malty. The result is chocolately and cinnamony. It is apparently also brewed with spruce but I didn't taste any overwhelming pine flavors. I thought it was a perfect decadent holiday beer.

Well, I thought that the Christmas Chub was decadent, but that was before I sipped this bad boy. Terrapin, out of Athens GA, does a series called Wake n' Bake Stout every year. This one is the even more special French Toast'd Wake n' Bake! It tastes exactly like French toast, you guys! It was rich with lots of maple flavors. The coffee isn't all that overwhelming but the vanilla and cinnamon come through beautifully. There is no way I could drink these all night - at a whopping 9.4% ABV, but it was so delicious I wanted to. Seriously, if you happen to come across this one, check it out. It is so worth it.

And finally, I would like to end this extensive beer re-cap with the Anchor Christmas. This wasn't actually my beer - it was one that Matt tried. I know I've had it before so I feel okay talking about it. Plus, I had a sip to refresh my memory. It is a darker beer but the flavors reminded me of the Southern Tier 2Xmas - it was gingery and piney. It is a delicious beer and well worth it around the holiday season.

We are about to head up to Michigan for the holidays. We'll be there for 2 weeks and I am sure we'll have plenty of delicious beers to report back on. The beer culture in Michigan is fantastic so I am looking forward to some local brews this holiday season.

So - what seasonal beers did you enjoy this week?