Holiday Ale Tasting

A thought occurred to me a few weeks ago about how there are so many good holiday/winter beers out there and how I’d never tasted more than one of them at a time. Wouldn’t it be fun to incorporate a tasting into a holiday party for my friends? And so I did.

I wasn’t too particular on which kind of beer we would have because I knew most of my friends wouldn’t be serious about the tasting part, more about the drinking and celebrating part. but I wanted to get a few I knew and a few I didn’t.

Of course I had to provide some eats for my thirsty compatriots! Beer actually does pair well with several things (not just pizza!) and so I offered an array of meats, cheeses and chocolates (well, in this case, peppermint bark!) 😛

Others brought some goodies to share as well (thanks to those who did) and we ended up having quite a large amount of food!

We started off with a local beer, 21st Amendment’s Fireside Chat (Winter Warmer/7.9% ABV). I had this a few weeks back at a FoodBuzz event and I remember really liking it.

After trying it again, I think maybe I wasn’t quite as impressed as I was when I first drank it. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a decent beer. Lots of spice but it’s a bit one dimensional and lacked some depth.

Our second beer was another local brew – Marin Brewing Comany’s Hoppy Holidaze (Winter Warmer/7% ABV). I was actually expecting this to be quite hoppy, what with a name like that. But it wasn’t overly hoppy. It had a very good balance and I really enjoyed it. I also felt like this was probably the most enjoyable beer of the night for the group as a whole. See below how Mr. Van Loan feels about it.

Our third beer ( Nøgne Ø’s Peculiar Yule/Spiced Beer, 6.5% ABV) was a bit of a wild card as I hadn’t tasted it prior to the event but it had decent ratings from what I could tell. I was intrigued because it said that it drew some inspiration from Norwegian drink “gløgg” which I had tried for the first time last Christmas. I think this was the most surprising beer for everyone, especially those who hadn’t had a spiced beer before. For most, the flavor and smell was overwhelmingly spicy. I didn’t get the gløgg taste I was expecting, but then again, it’s a beer and not gløgg! But it was definitely interesting and you should check it out if you are into trying different types of beers.

We ended the tasting with He’brew’s Jewbelation Fourteen (American Strong Ale, 14% ABV). I had tried this a few other times and really enjoyed it and was hopeful my guests were as well. This one packs a punch at 14% ABV which is why we waited for it. It’s a big beer but doesn’t have a strong taste of alcohol. Rich, malty and sweet, you get a lot of chocolate and mild spice notes. My favorite of the night although I think many people were beered out by this time. Suki shows us that she can only take a little of this monster of a beer!

All in all, a fun night was had with wonderful friends and lots of other tasty beers. Highlights were definitely Andrei’s Winter Saison and Scottish Ale that he brewed himself!

Thanks to all of my friends who made it out for this little event. I had a wonderful time and I hope you did as well.

PintMuse after a few...;-)

All photos from the party are here but the credit goes to all the party attendees as Andrei’s camera was being passed around. 🙂