Under the Fir Boughs(2)

Under the Fir Boughs(2)Last night I attended the kick off to the Holiday Ale Festival with a few friends. We had the privilege of trying a variety of great craft beers. The beers ranged from hoppy like Oakshire Brewing’s Very Ill-Tempered Gnome to oak and spice flavored like Fort George Brewery & Public House North III. With more than 50 beers to choose from and limited quantities I made a list of beers that I wanted to try. Here are my five recommended beers with descriptions from the Holiday Ale Festival’s website.

Upright Brewing Company • Holy Herb

Farmhouse Winter Ale [Farmhouse Ale] • ABV: 6.9% • IBUs: 18

The Holy Herb is a malty farmhouse winter beer. The name refers to hyssop, a medicinal pant with a minty and bitter character that was added to the kettle. It’s also aged on eucalyptus wood staves and bark, which provides some earthy and cooling qualities to its flavor. A contrasting fruity aroma comes from a Belgian yeast that fermented the beer in open top tanks.

Cascade Brewing Company • Drie Zwarte Pieten “Sang Noir 2009″

Barrel-Aged Sour Ale [Sour Ale] • ABV: 10.2% • IBUs: 5

“Sang Noir” is complex dance with the barrels at Cascade Brewing. The 2009 version is a big, full-bodied double Flanders style red ale with distinct barrel notes. This double red comes from a blend of several barrel aged beers, with portions of the beer aging in Heaven Hills and Maker’s Mark Whiskey barrels, Pinot Noir Barrels, and Double red aged on 100 pounds of Bing Cherries. Some Bourbonic Plague and Blond Quad aged in Minnesota oak was added to bring some sweet high notes. And a straight sour pie blend was added to taste to bring the sourness to the front. A little bigger than last years version and available only at the Holiday Ale Festival.

Holiday Ale / Hair of the Dog Commemorative • JIM (2009) – I suggest trying all three years of JIM, 2007-2009.

Barrel Aged Old Ale [Strong Ale] • ABV: 10%

JIM 2009. Is collaboration between the Holiday Ale Festival and Hair of the Dog Brewing. Made exclusively for the event, JIM honors the late Jim Kennedy, a major inspiration for many in the NW beer circles. This is a blended beer, and varies with each incarnation. 2009 is in the realm of and hoppy barrel aged old ale. Made with Doggie Claws, Adam, Fred from the wood, and Blue Dot. Additionally JIM was blended with a Keg of English Brown Ale, German Bock, and American Strong ale. JIM was toasted with a few bottles; Cantillon St. Lamvinus, Scaldis Noel, Corsendonk Christmas ale, and Orval.

Fort George Brewery & Public House • North III

Belgian Tripel [Belgian Ale] • ABV: 8.8% • IBUs: 99

Brewed strong, bold and sweet with honey malt and maple syrup, then fermented with our jolliest Belgian yeast, this beer then rests in the bright tank with 60 pounds of finely chopped sugar plums until the elves can wait no longer. The resulting elixir arrives onyx in hue with hints of oak and spice and a rich complex cornucopia of cheer for your palate. This is a fruitcake that won’t get tossed!

Deschutes Brewery • Lost Barrels of Mirror Mirror

Oak-Aged Barleywine [Barleywine] • ABV: 10.7% • IBUs: 51

After releasing this Mirror Mirror inspired barley wine earlier this year as part of the Reserve Series, the brewers discovered some “lost” barrels hidden in the back corner of the warehouse. They set aside this special 100% barrel-aged version of Mirror Mirror for occasions such as the Holiday Ale Festival. Lucky you!

There you have it a few beers that your palate may enjoy. And to get the most out of the Holiday Ale Festival check their website for a full list of beers with descriptions or follow them on Twitter @Holidayale. Also visit Taplister.com (a website that I am involved in) and the free iPhone app called Beer Signal for a live updated tap list for the Holiday Ale Festival. Have fun and let me know what beers you liked best.

Photo Credit: Holiday Ale Festival

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