Thursday, January 7, 2010

The 12 Beers of Christmas Vacation

Before I left town for my 6 days of Christmas vacation, I made sure I brought with me plenty of beer to drink and also made sure that I had plenty of new ones to rate. Here are the results.

The first night I had Flying Dog Horn Dog Barley Wine and Goose Island Pere Jacques.

I haven't had a ton of barleywines but this one seemed to be pretty decent. Big boozy beer with a thick chewy mouthfeel. The Pere Jacques was a 2008 vintage that I found that night. When I poured it there were quite a few chunks in it (yeast I'm guessing?). Strangely though, I didn't notice any of them as I drank the beer. It was another sweet, chewy beer that had some really good dark fruity flavors in it.
I only had one beer on Xmas Eve and drank it and rated it before (Yeti). Christmas day found me with a North Coast Old Stock Ale which was quite delightful on a cold snowy day. Not surprisingly, being a barlywine it tasted very similar to the Horn Dog but I liked this one much better.
Saturday I had a Bells Cherry Stout, a Verhaeghe Duchesse De Bourgogne and a Tyranena Sheep Shagger Scotch Ale. I tried the Bells at a sampling at the Four Firkins (and once from a cask at Stub & Herbs) but it was much better when you got a full bottle of it. Wonderful but subtle cherry and chocolate flavors make this beer amazing.

The Duchesse was my first ever sour beer and the jury is still out on them for me. I did enjoy it but it was such a departure from what I'm used to that it was tough to wrap my taste buds around. Even though it was obviously sour (in a balsamic/malt vinegar kind of way) it was almost like a sweet & sour flavor to me. The Sheep Shagger was a very solid offering, not too unlike the barleywines actually.

For my birthday I had a Traquair House Ale, a Fort Garry Pale Ale, a Dogfish Head Raison D Extra and finished the night off with a Founders Backwoods Bastard (previously tried and rated).

The Traquair was a nice oaky sweet beer with nice fruit notes. It was one of the best beers of the week for me. The Fort Garry was a local beer, much much better than a Labatt! It doesn't hold up to the rest of the lineup but compared to the stuff most Canadians drink this stuff is gold. What can I say about the Raison D'Extra? Just double the goodness of Raison D'Etre with its big raisin/fruit/boozy flavors and you have the D Extra!

My last beer before heading home was Avery The Beast Grand Cru Ale. This stuff compared very well to the D'Extra in its boozy, fruity flavors and the sheer mass of it. Not too often you can take two beers, add their ABV's together and surpass the 30% mark. Very good way to end the trip.

My last two beers are what welcomed me home, Anchor Steam Beer and Samuel Adams Imperial Double Bock. I'm not too familiar with the California Common style of beer so I wasn't the greatest judge of it. It was a decent beer but I'm guessing just not my favorite style. The Sam Adams though was a very pleasant surprise, I loved it. Sweet, malty, caramel, chocolate notes that just brought a smile to my face before I had to return to work the next day.

It was a beautiful way to spend a Christmas vacation and a very thoughtful present to myself!

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