It's been a while, and I can't really think of another topic, so I think it's time for a beer thread. Portland just had its annual Holiday Ale Festival, which is a five-day beer festival in which the brewers are challenged to bring something to the festival that is not generally available in their breweries or in the stores. It makes for some pretty amazing beer-tasting, even with the stupid amount of people that cram into the space every year.
I was not able to make it to the festival this year, sadly, but thanks to a friend of mine who is involved with said festival, I have had the pleasure of sampling many of the beers that were available this year. Some of my favorites:
- 10 Barrel Frosty's Revenge: I'm not generally crazy about figs, unless they're in newton form, but this beer made with raisins and figs was really good. It's what is meant by 'winter warmer' - it makes you feel all warm and fuzzy, and it's really complex and has a little bit of...not spice, really, but that sort of savory tang that I really like in this kind of beer.
- Bear Republic Prepare To Be Boarded: I'm also not generally a fan of stouts or porters, as I hate the taste of coffee and often they have that coffee undertone to them. But this was pretty amazing. Ultra-dark, kinda cinnamony, and really tasty.
- Oakshire Very Ill Tempered Gnome: Every year, Oakshire brings one of their Gnome beers to the Ale Festival. In the past it's been Ill Tempered, but this year's was Very Ill Tempered. It's almost chewy but has a surprising fresh citrus note at the end, which was really cool.
- Widmer Brrrbon Vanilla: This one was more interesting in concept than in flavor. I love, love, love bourbon barrel aged beers, but mixing vanilla in with a red IPA just didn't really work for me.
Outside of the festival beers, I also had one of my top five favorite ever beers this weekend. My friend that helped me score tastes of the holiday beers I mentioned happens to own the Lompoc pubs here in Portland, and one of his brewers took their Wee Heavy Scotch Ale and, yep, bourbon-barrel aged it for 9 months. It smelled like Jim Beam - I don't mean this in a derogatory way at all, it just smelled like that rather than like a darker, peatier bourbon - and it was caramely and complex and wonderful and I want a keg of it in my house.
Have you had any good winter beers lately? Any you're interested in trying but haven't had a chance to yet? And if you're not a beer drinker, what do you drink - wine, bourbon, scotch? If you don't drink alcohol at all, what's your beverage of choice when you're at a party or social situation where people are drinking alcohol?
Anything else you want to talk about this week? Knock yourselves out. Not literally, that'd probably hurt.