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Friday has come around again. Hope it's been a good week for you all. Stop in and have a beer with us!

[cue the theme music]

Tomorrow night is the homebrew club holiday party, so I went to the local House of Overpriced Beer looking for something interesting to take, and something not so interesting for the gift exchange. Never a problem finding interesting things there.

Winter is the time  for the deluge of strong and often spiced seasonal beers. Not all brewers have the light touch required with spices, so this is a style that can be hit-or-miss. I remember having the same complaint a couple months ago about spiced pumpkin beers. And some are making really exotic stuff. I bought one from Bruery in SoCal. They decided to celebrate the season with a different beer every year, and to name them for the familiar "12 Days". This is year 5 of the sequence and therefore named 5 Golden Rings; it's a Belgian strong golden with spices and pineapple juice.

Anchor Christmas ale is a classic of the dark spiced ale variety. What are your favorites?

shit, I'm late posting this, time to wrap up.

the Cider mentioned above is this good story about craft cider. Any cider makers out there? I like cider and have been meaning to try.

I've got SN Celebration. What are you drinking?

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Comment Preferences

  •  Jubelale, while waiting for your diary. (5+ / 0-)

    And still seeing (some) trees full of (small) apples.  Are the old heirloom trees that hold their smallish apples into December the ones that wanted to be made into cider back in October?  

    If so, all we need is a press and we could make gallon upon gallon upon gallon of cider just from the old trees that the old homesteaders planted and the current era has forsaken.

  •  St Pauli Girl (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The distributor (I'm in PA in case that's an unfamiliar term) apparently has a deal with the importer where it's actually cheaper than Budweiser and most other domestics.

    Been drawing from that well for nearly 10 years now.

  •  Hi all (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    No beer for me tonight. Got to get up at about 5:30 am to take my son to a karate tournament.

    Missing the Strong Ale fest this weekend too, very sad.

  •  Weed Jalapeno Ale (4+ / 0-)

    from MtShastaBrewing.  I love this beer!  The perfect beer for accompanying food, slightly spicy with a distinctive jalapeno aroma, with a picante but not overpowering finish.  The downside is that I can rarely find it in my area 8(

    Did I say that I love this beer?

  •  Anchor (5+ / 0-)

    has been hit or miss with me in recent years, but I like this year's.

    Celebration is solid, for some reason this year's seems underwhelming.

    Jubelale I've had once, and liked it quite a bit.

    Boulevard Nutcracker (KC) is really good this year.

    Jolly Pumpkin's Noel de Calabaza is very nice.

    And can't miss with Belgian style seasonals like St Bernardus Christmas, Scaldis Noel, Ommegang Adoration, Mikkeller Santa's Little Helper.

    Wish I could get my hands on Hair of the Dog's Doggie Claws!

    Politics: A strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles. -- Ambrose Bierce

    by OkieByAccident on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 07:52:48 PM PST

  •  Cider... (5+ / 0-)

    Reminds me of a story...

    While in the Air Force, we wound up in England for a few days before we headed back home. One of our crew members didn't drink a whole lot, so we suggested a cider for him. He like it. He asked if it would give him a hangover and of course we said no. We gave him another. Then another. etc.

    The next morning he was so mad at us.....

    But a cider in a English pub is quite good.

  •  Cider (4+ / 0-)

    I made cider every year when I had a big apple tree, then I moved and planted a few cider varieties, but haven't had a crop yet. I have some 2 year old perry (pear cider) which I ought to bottle.
    To press apples or pears ,they must first be crushed into a sort of chunky applesauce, or you won't get much yield.  Traditional presses have crushers mounted above the pressing basket.
    A good book is Making Cider by Proulx and Nichols.
    A simple way to play with cider is to get a gallon of pasteurized juice with no sorbate or benzoate preservatives, throw in whatever wine or beer yeast you have handy, and leave the cap loose. Place in a bowl or someplace where some foaming over won't matter. Start drinking around day 3 or 4 while it is still sweet but has some alcohol and carbonation .Yum! Add more sugar or juice as needed. Another similar thing I did one summer was to mix up some cheap frozen fruit concentrate in a two gallon water cooler with spigot and add some Wyeast Belgian Strong Ale yeast. I kept it on a table in the basement. Pour and reload as needed.
    Drinking a Brewer's Best Imperial Brown Ale.

    The man who worries morning and night about the dandelions in the lawn will find great relief in learning to love the dandelions. Liberty Hyde Bailey, 1910

    by Grainpaw on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 08:21:00 PM PST

  •  Cider please (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I can't have grain alcohol.

    "Til you're so fucking crazy you can't follow their rules" John Lennon - Working Class Hero

    by Horace Boothroyd III on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 08:27:30 PM PST

  •  Capital Brewery WinterSkål. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I'm so sorry you likely can't get what I'm drinking; it's "just" an amber lager with spices, but has the touchstone of Wisconsin craft brewing in its carefully thought out malt and outstanding balance between all elements. This state's craft brewing was strange on the palate to this Washington State native; I used to be a scornful hophead but have fully converted. I just wish we had the mead culture Michigan has (they have some damn fine beer too in their own right).

    I just tried one of mine, too; a winter warmer made with 90+% Maris Otter, some medium crystal malt, Wyeast ESB, and brambling cross back in August. In the interim I oaked it and it's full of fruit esters and pretty good albeit young (alcohol hot) as it is 8%. Faring better is a Yule ale I made a few years ago with (baking) spices, tons of Simcoe and Amarillo, and the zest from two grapefruit; the grist is west coast IPA simple with a Belgian yeast. The bitterness is long gone but the cloves and grapefruit shine though, nice beer.

    Cider? I suck at making it. I need to get better though, I just ordered a couple pear trees. What do I do to make good cider/perry?

  •  Sierra Nevada Celebration (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    StonyB, sailboatslave, Swoof, S F Hippie

    Two deep into my first six pack of this concoction.  Yum.  Tempted to scoop out the endless lacing with a spoon like it was ice cream.

    Follow Me on Twitter!!/ZeddRebel

    by TarantinoDork on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 09:58:48 PM PST

  •  For those anywhere near the PNW, (0+ / 0-)

    look for 'Jolly Roger' by Maritme Pacific. My favorite by far among holiday beers. Sometimes Trader Joe's carries it. A little scarce this winter, but I cruised through several cases last winter.
    Next choice is Jubelale, a close second.
    Cheers all!

    ...ready about...helm's alee...

    by sailboatslave on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 10:30:18 PM PST

  •  Favorite dark spiced ales, you ask? (0+ / 0-)

    Good question, Beer Blog Master.  I'll give you two.  Old Fezziwig is one of several good reasons to pick up a 12-pack of Sam Adams Winter Classics, and an ale I look forward to every year.  Representing the opposite coast, I'll also give a shout out to Anderson Valley Winter Solstice.  There's something about the spice profile they generate in this beer (and to a lesser extent, their Summer Solstice) that hits just the right happy spots for me.  Yum.

    Tonight?  Had a Troegs Perpetual IPA, a new offering by the Harrisburg PA brewery that is definitely worth seeking out.  Enjoyed a Southern Tier 2X Milk Stout after dinner.  Those peeps really know how to craft malty goodness (Choklat, Mokah, Jah-va, Creme Brulee...need I say more?)


    332 - 206. Not a mandate, my ass.

    by StonyB on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 10:37:44 PM PST

  •  Cider and other stuff (0+ / 0-)

    I made cider a couple years ago when I was first getting into homebrewing.  The results were drinkable but not nearly as good as what I can get from all the cider makers around here.  I did do some freeze distilling with a bit of it and that was better.  Thinking about trying another batch soon.  It's definitely easier than mashing, sparging, etc., on a home brew level since you don't have to deal with pressing the apples (unless you want to).

    I had a pint of Deschutes' The Abyss at my neighborhood bar and grill tonight.  I did a double-take when the bartender asked me for $5 because that's something I'd expect to pay $8 for a 10 oz. glass.  That was pretty much enough but I just had a 21st Amendment Fireside Chat for bedtime.  Not my favorite but I've been trying to buy more canned beer (Oskar Blues and 21st Amendment, mostly) because I don't need anymore bottles and recycling aluminum is easier.

  •  Cider! (0+ / 0-)

    Our little town has 3 local cideries.  

    My favorite is Alpenfire.  I love their Pirate's Plank.

    Well-behaved women rarely make history - Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

    by Milly Watt on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 10:00:01 AM PST

  •  Seasonal ale (0+ / 0-)

    I have taken a liking to Alaskan Winter Ale.  It is flavored with Spruce tips and I find it an intriguing taste.  It's more refreshing to me than heavily spiced winter ales.

    Well-behaved women rarely make history - Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

    by Milly Watt on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 10:03:17 AM PST

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