Santa may be stuck with milk during the holiday season, but fortunately your palate gets to play. Holiday beers and winter warmers were the focus of a blind and random tasting held in November at homebrewing supply store F.H. Steinbart Co. The following descriptions and comments come from the participating breweries and consumer tasters who attended the event:
Ecliptic Brewery: Filament, Portland 7.2% ABV, 70 IBUs
Brewery Description: As the winter sun hangs low in our sky, some 93 million miles away, solar filaments, giant arcs of cool, dense plasma explode from its surface. Filament Winter IPA celebrates this cosmic wonder. Pale, Munich and Caramel malts create a rich malt character with a honey-like flavor. A bounty of Crystal, Chinook and Centennial hops combine to lend spicy, citrus hop notes.
Consumer Comments: Refreshing and hoppy. I wish my beer tasting (sic) like this. Nice bitterness. Refreshing, light, but still full-flavored. Good citrus flavor. A good-to-go everyday kind of beer. Smooth, not overly bitter. Really nice, balanced, not too hoppy. Taste lingered on the tip of my tongue.
Lompoc: C-Sons Greetings Imperial IPA, Portland 8% ABV
Brewery Description: C-Note’s big brother. A deep copper-colored ale brewed and dry-hopped with all seven "C" hops for a piney, citrusy, floral and resinous aroma. Offers a full hop flavor with a rich caramel malt finish and an endless developing hop presence.
Consumer Comments: Nice consistency and light flavor. Very nice! Reminds me of Winterfell. I like the honey-esque color of the beer. Nice bouquet; maybe just a tad heavy on the hops. Delicious, lacks spice and warmth. Dark and sweet. Very oaty.
Golden Valley: Tannenbomb, McMinnville 8% ABV, 50 IBUs
Brewery Description: Loaded with specialty malts from five countries, this monster of a malt bomb is hopped with Apollo, Willamette and Golding hops for a balanced profile.
Consumer Comments: Good flavor. Walked up and said hello--we have been friends ever since. Quite delicious indeed. Crisp and sweet, great winter time treat. Smelled of apples. Good flavor, but too sweet. Great balance, sweet nose, clean finish. Vibrant. Clean, dry finish. Nutty sweetness to start, very tasty. I want to eat roasted chestnuts while drinking this beer. Refreshing and light. A little boozy but alright.
McMenamins: Kris Kringle, Statewide 6.84% ABV, 77 IBUs
Brewery Description: The 2014 version of Kris Kringle is a hearty and robust ale with a big and bold malt complexity as well as an intense and flavorful hop profile.
Malts: Pale Ale, Munich, Wheat, 15L & 120L Crystal, Chocolate
Hops: Chinook, Cascade, Centennial, Perle, Sterling
Consumer Comments: Sunset on the beach. Nice carmel-y. Has a delightful smell--the taste is not far behind. Once it hits your lips it is so good. Full-bodied and well-balanced. Thicker body. I would buy a case of this one for sure. This beer tastes like the holidays and makes me want to go sledding. I would love a full pint of this, but not sure I would want more than that as the flavors are pretty intense; which is not necessarily a bad thing. Nutty.
Wild Ride: Stand Up and Shout Stout with Coffee and Vanilla, Redmond 7% ABV, 55 IBUs
Brewery Description: This foreign export stout features the addition of vanilla beans and 100% Kona coffee. These two ingredients bring harmony to a stout with notes of chocolate, caramel, and roast.
Consumer Comments: Coffee is pleasing--my morning beer. Good, cold weather, strong. Chocolatiers rejoice, Stumptown brewing. Finally, a beer I can drink for breakfast. Smells of dirt, tastes like coffee. Nice blend of coffee and dark beer. Chocolate-y, more porter then winter ale. This is the ideal after-Christmas dinner beer served with chocolate cake, vanilla ice cream, and the movie Elf on repeat. Amazing coffee porter, solid job. Caramel goodness. Love it!
Worthy: Powder Keg, Bend 7.1% ABV, 65 IBUs
Brewery Description: A red-hued ale festive IPA with loads of hop flavor and aroma. A piney and citrusy hop character is balanced by a generous dose of crystal malts, making this an aggressive, yet balanced beer.
Consumer Comments: After the same! Yum. Standard entry, sparkled in the middle, clean taste. Good flavors. Easy drinking balance of light body, flavor, and hops. Too hoppy for me, but I am sure this will be a favorite for others. Delicious!