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
















Saturday, December 19, 2015

The Twelve Beers of Christmas 2015

The holiday season is upon us meaning that it is time for my annual Twelve Beers of Christmas for 2015. Every year since 2008 great beers have been carefully selected to be elevated to this very select list. Obtained through trades, gifts from friends, purchased when traveling, by whatever means necessary to make certain that by Christmas there are great brews I have not yet tasted, saved for this exclusive anticipated event. This year's selections are a mixture of barrel-aged, sour, Brettanomyces yeast, and rare beers, highly coveted, saved for this occasion, including a couple of highly regarded Tennessee goodies to help give this dozen a local flavor.

Here are my Twelve Beers of Christmas 2015:




1. St. Bernardus Abt 12 Oak Aged

St. Bernardus Abbey Ales are world class. For the past several years St. Bernardus Christmas Ale has been paired with our family Christmas dinner, always stellar, always pleasing. When this oak aged Belgian Quadrupel was purchased, it immediately moved to the top of the Christmas dozen.



From the brewer:
"St.Bernardus Abt 12 Oak Aged is brewed with that same original recipe and then matured for 6 months in Oak Calvados barrels before it is bottle conditioned. This maturation on oak barrels gives the beer a deeper and richer taste." 



2. Modern Times Universal Friend

Every beer I have tried from San Diego's Modern Times has been very good. This grape-based saison was a birthday/Hootenanny gift from Jason. I know it will not disappoint. 


Brewer's description:
"Universal Friend is a saison made with Pinot Grigio grape must. This light and crisp ale imparts aromas of clove, grape, citrus, and a little sweetness that all carry into the flavor."



3. Unknown Brewing 1.5ish



"A Belgian Style Red Rye Ale aged and soured in French Oak Cabernet barrels with strawberries and vanilla beans."    

Yes, please. This Unknown Brewing ale is another birthday/Hootenanny gift, this one from good friend Pfoxy John aka Beer Santa. Looks like a lot going on with this beer: a barrel-aged sour with strawberries and vanilla beans... Sounds like dessert.


4. Central Waters Kosmyk Charlie's Y2K Catastrophe Ale 2012

There has to be some barleywines in the twelve. This one is another beer present from Pfoxy John, Godfather of the Wisconsin Beer Mafia. Guaranteed to warm one up on a cold winter's night. The only catastrophe will be if it accidentally spills.


Central Waters says:
"This Catastrophe is aged one year in our cellars, delightfully fruity and smooth enough to help you slide over the worst Y2K glitch."



5. AleSmith Barrel Aged Olde Ale 2014


AleSmith Brewery produces some of the best ales in America. The Barrel-aged Olde Ale makes the fifth different offering from this fine brewery that has been including in the annual twelve. It is aged in bourbon and brandy barrels. Thank you Todd for another rare barrel-aged AleSmith.


"AleSmith Barrel Aged Olde Ale is matured in both premium bourbon barrels and brandy barrels to add vinaceous complexity to its rich, malty profile. Notes of oak, vanilla, and bourbon compliment the beer's dried fruit and burnt toffee character to make this limited release worth the wait."


6. SweetWater The Pit & The Pendulum


I have said it many times before - I love peaches, and I am a sucker for peach beers. SweetWater beers are usually on point. Southern, peaches, Brett, Belgian yeast, I am all for that. 
  "The perfect balance of three distinct divergences. Allowed to initially flower with Belgian ale yeast, The Pit & The Pendulum was then incarcerated with Brett and freshly puréed peaches to intensify the trifecta of its persona."


7. Sierra Nevada Into The Woods Barrel-Aged Old Ale


This barrel-aged goody was obtained during a recent trip to Sierra Nevada's immaculate Mills River, NC facility. As one of the top breweries in the United States, Sierra Nevada brews some fantastic beers. This one should be no exception. It should be big, boozy, strong and delicious. Definitely a sipper.


 


8. Yazoo Embrace The Funk Deux Rouges Cassis (Purple Wax)


 
Embrace The Funk's Brandon Jones (l) and myself at ETF Release.


Brandon Jones is concocting some amazing award-winning elixirs at Yazoo Brewing in Nashville. I am honored to have received several of these outstanding brews from the Wrangler of Funk himself. This Deux Rouges Cassis was purchased at an Embrace The Funk special release this past September. Yes, there was hot chicken at the event.  






9. Black Abbey Barrel-Aged Potus 3 (Batch B69 MCS JC)

"Potus 3 is a Colonial Farmhouse Ale from a recipe brewed at Monticello during Thomas Jefferson's time. The base saison conveys lots of pepper and spice with the barreling imparting a Sauvignon Blanc-type grapey-ness with some tart and a hint of salt."



Another standout Tennessee brewery. Drinking local means drinking fresh and putting tax dollars back into your area. That is good business. #DrinkLocal
 
According to Carl Meier at The Black Abbey Brewing Company, the batch code is:

B69 is for barrel tracking.
MCS is where the barrel came from, in this case McScrooge's in Knoxville.
JC is for the type of barrel, with the code indicating "J" for Jefferson, "C" for Cabernet, with the barrel being a Cabernet barrel that also held Jefferson's Reserve Bourbon, thus keeping with the Potus 3 theme.
 

10. The Bruery Tart of Darkness 2013


Another west coast offering from another stellar brewery. Sour porters and stouts are among my favorite styles. The Bruery has mastered sour and funky ales. This 2013 cellared selection should be outstanding; been holding to this one since it was released.


"We brewed a stout but we then decided to throw it into oak barrels...and added our special blend of souring bacterias and yeasts. The result is a perfectly tart yet awesomely dark and roasty sour stout. Not a style you see too often - and in our opinion, not a style you see often enough."



11. Dominion Millennium Oak Aged Barley-Wine


Barleywine number two on the list. This Dominion ale was gifted by DC Dave aka Foam Fan. Barleywines are usually better if aged for at least a year before enjoying them. That usually mellows the beast a bit. This one is a couple of years old. 

"We have just solved a brewery mystery (and it is delicious). We wondered what would happen if we put Dominion Millennium in oak barrels that had bourbon in them for five years. Three months later we had Oak Barrel Millennium. Something special, we think. Ruby-red color with a wide range of complex flavors. Malt and sherry predominate."



12. Wicked Weed Dark Arts Tequila Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout w/Brett and Espresso


Wicked Weed in Asheville, NC is one of the stars of the brewing South. Fantastic funky beers, a sourheads paradise, and a great place to eat, it is a must-visit on any proper trip to Asheville. Good friend Jason procured this beauty for me. Love the brewery, love the label artwork, love the beers.This one should be huge. Thanks Jason!


"This beer was brewed with brown sugar, agave, and honey., fermented using our house Brettanomyces culture. Dark Arts is ever the fulfillment of a goal we set for ourselves in the beginning: to not only strive for the cap, but to also craft a culmination beer, reflective of our love of all beer styles. Cheers to another year of reveling in the Darkness."




Here is to good friends, great beers, and enjoying family during the holiday season. Thank you to everyone who helped me compile this list.  I hope you enjoy your own Twelve Beers of Christmas.

Merry Christmas 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