Thursday, December 16, 2010

A Quick Fix of Six

If you don’t find yourself staring down a few good beers this weekend, it’ll be your own damned fault because there’s a lot of fine stuff flowing around town right now. Here’s a quick six of things you might want to make it your business to encounter.

Over at Festival Foods they recently brought in a couple of succulent seasonals from Bell’s Brewing of lovely Kalamazoo. Bell’s Christmas Ale is an easy drinking, malty brew along the lines of a Scottish Ale that fairly glows in your cup. Nothing funny in the way of Christmas spices here, just a smooth, mellow beer with tasty notes of caramel malt. Then there’s Bell's Cherry Stout, a handsomely priced sipper that’s going for $12 and change. It’s a thick, chewy ale loaded with creamy malt and balanced by a burst of sharp and tart cherry juice. You probably won’t reach for a second bottle of this in the same session, but at 7% it’s a good buffer to these cold nights we’ve been having. Also at Festival, they recently brought out the 2010 Sierra Nevada Northern Hemisphere Harvest Ale. Here’s a wet-hop beer bitched-up with spicy hop flavor that snaps the backbone of malt they’ve tried to balance it with. Forget about balance, it’s the hops that make this beer. If you like the grassy, lemony flavor of fresh hops this ale will make you happy.

Now for a couple brews you’ll need to belly up to the bar to gulp. At Fratello’s they have a Cream Ale pouring that’s more than the name implies. This isn’t one of those limp beers that tend to fall into this style, the Vixen Vanilla Cream Ale is a moderately robust winter seasonal with rich vanilla flavorings and just the right amount of heft at 5.9%. It’s a golden, hearty beer with a sweetish aroma that’s especially inviting. A good brew all the way around. At Becket’s they’ve had Hinterland's Winterland Porter going for a couple weeks now. Hinterland seems to be hitting their stride lately and this beer is another success for them. It starts with all the bold roastiness you’d expect in a winter porter and then it kicks in with a charge of very assertive piny hop flavors. It’s a surprising beer that ought to appeal to any hop-head.

Finally, and strictly for sentimental reasons, there’s that good, old Huber Bock that’s been pouring at O’Marro’s. Sure, you can go buy a 12-pack of this at a few of the local depots, but at O’Marro’s they’re serving it up in an old-fashioned jar-sort-of-mug that’s just right for this beer. I have a special affection for this lager as it was instrumental in triggering the beer geekery that still afflicts me. When I was way too young to drink legally I used to steal bottles of this from my old man’s stash. I loved every illicit sip of it. Never has such an unassuming beer tasted so great!


  1. Happy Festivus To All!

    Does anybody know where to find Samuel Smith's 2010-11 Winter Welcome ("One of the world's five best beers." - Michael Jackson)? It's getting harder to find every year. Usually Club Liquor in Menasha has it, but to no avail.

    Great blog, I love reading the updates.

  2. Thanks, Mike. Thanks, Woj. I haven't seen the Winter Welcome, either, Woj, but if I come across it I'll snag a few bottles and pass some along to you.