But here are the beers at the top of the Dave Knows Tasting List:
- Bear Republic Brewing Company‘s Ebeweesner Scrooge – This barrel aged smoked sour ale is a blend of many barrels from the Bear Republic cellar, including Smoked Red Rocket and Black Do, which was then spiked with Bear Republic’s own ‘spank,’ a wild open fermentation beer that is the source of Bear Republic’s sour power. I do not believe I’ve ever tried a smoked sour ale.
- Block 15 Restaurant & Brewery‘s Figgy Pudding, Olde Stock – This haunting Strong Ale is brewed with English pale and specialty malts and molasses, then matured in freshly emptied brandy barrels and conditioned with mission figs. It’s gently spiced with Ceylon cinnamon and whole nutmeg and further aged with English stock wild yeast. And Jesus Christ, it’s 11% alcohol!
- Boneyard Beer Company‘s Femme Fatale – This Sour Ale has been fermented with raspberries and cranberries. I’ve never heard of this Bend based brewery, and I’ve never tried a cranberry beer.
- Buckbean Brewing Company‘s Very Noddy Lager – This Imperial Schwarzbier has twice the malt and hops of the brewery’s Black Noddy Lager, yielding an opaque black color, deeply rich and nutty malt flavor, a clean, hoppy bite, and noticeably high alcohol. Yes please.
- Eel River Brewing Company‘s Climax Noel (2009) – This is an Imperial American Style Red Ale fermented with a Belgian strong ale yeast. Intriguing!
- Fifty Fifty Brewing Company‘s Concentrated Evil – This Belgian Style Strong Dark Ale is brewed with raisins and exotic sugars. The flavor speaks of raisins, Belgian yeast generated esters and an overall warming character from alcohol. Sounds like a Port wine.
- Fort George Brewery & Public House‘s North the Fourth – This holiday delight was made with a two pounds of candy canes, 60 pounds of cranberries, and over 40 pounds of spruce tips. Chocolate, caramel and 2-row make up the malty profile, balanced out with US Challenger and Czech Saaz hops. Wow! Generally I love Fort George beers.
- Hopworks Urban Brewery‘s Kentucky Christmas – Kentucky Christmas began its life as Abominable Winter Ale before being gently whisked away to a cavern deep in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Here, outside the reach of modern communications, it was laid to rest in freshly emptied Buffalo Trace Kentucky Bourbon barrels where notes of vanilla and spice mixed with citrus and caramel. This the kind of beer that draws me to the Holiday Ale Festival.
- Migration Brewery‘s Nor’Easter – This medium bodied, light copper colored Belgian Strong Ale is made with fresh New England maple syrup. The full palette of flavor is highlighted by a slight sweetness coupled with subtle smokey, woody undertones. I’m a sucker for Belgian Strong Ales and maple syrup.
- Stone Brewing Company‘s Smoked Porter w/ Vanilla Beans – Stone Smoked Porter has a captivatingly deep mahogany color, complemented by a silky dark tan head. I’m intrigued by smoked beers, though still not sure if I like them. Well executed vanilla porters remind me of one of my rare early homebrew successes.
Well, that’s 10, the number of samples included with the entrance fee/tasting package. I don’t expect I’ll be able to drink much more than that. . . . but if can muster it I may take a gander at some of Friday’s limited release beers.
Some beers that also intrigue me, but that I’ve already tried or I’m confident I can find locally after the fest are below:
- Cascade Brewing Company‘s Sang Noir – This deep, dark double red was aged more than a year in Pinot and Whiskey barrels, then blended with a barrel of Bing cherries. It’s a deep, rich and complex NW double red. Delicious. And I’ve had it before at the Barrel House.
- Deschutes Brewery‘s Streaking the Quad – This Strong Belgian Ale is fruity and full of flavor. Aged in rye whiskey barrels for nine months, its slightly spicy aroma promises to leave you with a warm fuzzy holiday feeling. Had it, liked it.
- Oakshire Brewing‘s Very Ill-Tempered Gnome – This bold and balanced beer features a complex malt profile of caramel, light fruit and toasty nut, backed up by a warming alcohol presence and a solid citrus hop blast. Enjoyed this one with delicious poutine at the Hawthorne Hophouse this past weekend!