For the first time, craft beer has outsold Budweiser. Now, lest you fear for Bud's livelihood, understand that it means that it took hundreds of craft beers to outsell one brand. I think Bud will survive. But as American beer drinkers' thirst for real American beers grows, restaurant owners are taking notice. Those that haven't? (I'm talking to you Olive Garden and Red Lobster) it's up to us to "educate" them. Ask if they have any craft beers. If they try to foist Shock Top, Blue Moon, or Stella Artois as a craft beer explain patiently that those are not really craft beers. Don't they have any beers from some of the local craft brewers? If not, order water! Enough people do this, and they'll get the point.
in Clifton Park, NY recently and after much schmoozing and a fair amount of drinking, the brewers decided to send us some beer to review. Shmalz brews the He'brew line of beers (He'brew - The Chosen Beer). They are one of those breweries that not only brews terrific beer, but has some fun naming the beers, playing off the He'brew name:
This year's Holiday Brews basics:
- Christmas Ale - Bell's Brewery, Kalamazoo, MI. 5.5% ABV. Winter Seasonal ale. We found this to be creamy and smooth. Quite malty with hints of toffee. A very pleasant, easy-drinking beer.
- Blizzard of Hops - Troegs Brewing, Hersey, PA. 6.4% ABV; 80 IBUs; Winter IPA. Citurs and piney hop aroma and flavor. An interesting and complex IPA, but not overpowering despite the 80 IBUs. It was nice to find an seasonal ale that was an IPA.
- Slope Style Winter Ale IPA - Boulder Beer, Boulder, CO. ABV: 6.4%. Red IPA. Another seasonal IPA, this one was well balanced up front, with the hop kick on the back end. A satisfying piney hop finish with just a hint of lemon citrus.
- Mastermind Double IPA - Fiddlehead Brewing, Shelburne, VT. ABV: 8.1%; Double IPA. This is a big beer with a big hoppy flavor. Unfiltered and brimming with grapefruit-hops taste combined with nice biscuit-malt and caramel underpinnings. The Guys were pleased, indeed. Alas, they are sold out for this year and won't have more until next Christmas.
- Hibernation Ale - Great Divide Brewing Co., Denver, CO. ABV: 8.7; Old Ale style. Sweet aroma with a big malt backbone. The taste is nicely balanced with spicy hops and a lingering alcohol aftertaste.
- Embrrr Rye Porter - Ithaca Beer Co., Ithaca, NY. 6.6% ABV; 80 IBUs; Rye Porter. A rich, creamy, full-bodied Porter redolent of roasted malts, dark chocolate with rye spiciness.
- Fireside Chat - 21st Amendment Brewery, San Francisco, CA. 7.9%; 45 IBUs; English-style Ale; A bit spicy with perhaps subtle notes of cinnamon, nutmeg and clove at the finish. Spices don't overpower, but nicely supplement the beer. Easy drinking for a 7.9%.
- Winter Warmer - Harpoon Brewing, Boston MA and Windsor, VT. 5.9% ABV; 23 IBUs. Spiced Ale. Cinnamon and nutmeg - pumpkin pie flavor. Medium bodied formed from caramel and pale malts. No real hop presence.
Pour: Decent head that receded fairly quickly
Pour: Decent short-lived head
Pour: Decent head
The BOTB Guys