The weekend started early and finished late. It was Thanksgiving, one of the best holidays of the year where family, friends, food and festive fermentables all came to the table. Wednesday, the night before Thanksgiving, was the day to round up your libations. For us, this meant getting down with some of the best brews of the season.
Wednesday we hit up Mt Tabor Brewing in Vancouver, WA and sampled out some new brews on Eric Surface’s up and running 7-barrel system. After working through a few kinks, Surface was able to successfully produce more of his flagship P-5 Pale Ale as well as a new Cascadian Dark Ale/Black IPA. There was even a bit of his R & R Rooibos Rye Pale Ale brewed for Brewpublic’s KillerBeerFest last month at Bailey’s Taproom.
Just up the street, we quaffed brews at By The Bottle where some choice draughts flowed, such as Georgetown’s Lucille IPA, Boundary Bay Harvest Ale, and a couple of winners from Boneyard Beer like Skunk Ape India Red Ale and The Backbone Chocolate Espresso Stout.
Thursday aka Thanksgiving Day was spent at our friends’ house popping open bottle after bottle of tasty brews from our cellars. Being with loved ones can help quell the day to day troubles and stresses. Throw in some spectacular brews, and you have yourself a winner.
Here’s the top picks we enjoyed over the holidays and weekend:
Deschutes The Abyss – Every year there’s one deep dark imperial stout from Oregon that you can count on to rock your world. From one of the best breweries anywhere, Deschutes, returns this thick, viscous, dark barrel-aged and blended stout. 11% ABV, 2011′s The Abyss showcases blackstap molasses, licorice, and vanilla bean. However, there are allusions to a number of various other flavors with a new impression surfacing with each new sip and continued warming of the pour.
The Abyss is one of the most popular Thanksgiving brews around and it is easy to taste why. A perfect after dinner assertive, dessertif beer, we’re always glad we fought our way through the thick wax to get to the hearty, chewy treat inside. Hats off, once again, Deschutes. Great work!
2007 Saison du Pelican – Best beer ever? Aged to perfection? Perhaps on both accounts. Don’t tell Pelican. We want more for us. This four year old bottle opened by our friend Raul featured the type of zest and spiciness that matches its subdues fruitiness and bouquet of grassy earthy flavors. Watch out for the in-laws, however, they may, perhaps unwittingly snag large portions of this rare bottle to suck down on their own. This beer is to be treasured, breathed in, and you should feel a little sentimental. We did as we remembered what a wonderful year 2007 was.
2009 Les Trois Mousquetaires Porter du Baltique – There’s probably not another deep chocolaty Baltic Porter that can hold a candle to this yummy beast. Thanks to our Brewpublican brother Marc Demeule of Quebec, we’ve been fortunate enough to return to this beauty. Lots of toasted maltiness melded with a creamy, nutty mouthfeel that brought in waves of dark fruitiness and a hint of coffee. The roundness of this beer is uncanny for a lager. For a 10% ABV beer, the drinkability is outstanding. Merci beaucoup, mon frère. Joyeuses fêtes!
1995 BridgePort Old Knucklehead Barleywine – It’s hard to fail in seeking out a dynamic holiday taster when it comes to a vintage bottle of BridgePort’s greatest brew of all time. A 16 year old Old Knuck with Bud “Whoop Whoop” Clark on the label held up tremendously. A little oxidation, but just the right amount considering age, this brew features a deep chestnut body with a soft creamy off-white head. Nuts, caramel, and raisins all come to life in this beer we were not sure whether to open yet or give it another four years for an even 20. Glad we did. Even the bottle conditioning chunks at the bottom went down easy.
2010 and 2011 Odell Friek – Amazing to see the change in one vintage to the next, the ’10 Framboise from one of our all-time favorite breweries was considerably darker than this year’s vintage (which by the way won gold at the 2011 Great American Beer Festival, Wood & Barrel Aged Sour Beer), and with a much deeper maltiness. Odell from Fort Collins, CO never ceases to amaze. The cherry notes are supposedly from the souring process only, whereas a large quantity of Schroyer Family Farms (Fort Collins) are handpicked and readied for the beer. Says the brewery “The fresh raspberries are added immediately prior to the final blending. The sweet and tart flavors mingle on the tongue with a sparkling dry finish.” Amen. We shared these two with friends at The BeerMongers at the tail-end of the weekend. Thanks, Odell, you rule!
Several other wonderful craft beers where enjoyed over the weekend in addition to these highlights. With still a lot of winter warmers and holiday brews left to get after, we’ll be sure to keep you posted on more of this year’s best.
Posted under beer reviews, vintage beers
This post was written by Angelo on November 28, 2011