Barley Mowat 

Walking in a Winter Wonderland (December Beer of the Month)

with 6 comments

I’m going to take things in a slightly new direction here, and declare the December BotM to be all the various seasonals that crop up at this time of the year. It seems like you can’t turn around without bumping into a Christmas this, a Barley Wine that, or a Winter Ale there.

So, without further adieu, here’s the winter funtime seasonals that I will be keeping my eye out for, along with a bit of authentic Chuck commentary on each.

  • Driftwood Old Cellar Dwellar — I’ve been proactively cleaning out space in my cellar for this bad boy. I’ll even do a ’09, ’10 and ’11 vertical when it comes out. No, you aren’t invited.
  • R&B Auld Nick — Last year this guy had a bit of a buzz because of the, er, enthusiasm with which it tackled the ABV. This year, while it certainly has a bit more umph than the 6.5ABV label suggests, it’s not the same dark brown beery insanity from last year that made it so very popular with alcoholics. Still good, though.
  • Driftwood Bird of Prey — This came out, and was bought up in record time. I managed to find a few to put down despite missing the initial release. My thoughts? Keep it in your cellar for a year or so. If you want a Flanders Red right now, seek out the Storm version, which is better… now.
  • Howe Sound Father John — Just found a 2010 of this hiding in the closet, so I’ll definitely do a side by side. However, this is one of the best Xmas ales out of the gate, so focus on drinking it now versus later.
  • Vancouver Island Hermannator — I did a side by side of my last 2010 and my first 2011. A year made this beer fantastic, to the point that the new one seems pale and limp in comparison. Buy it to cellar, as it is cheap and there are better Ice Bocks on the market.
  • Fort Garry Munich Eisbock — And this is one of them. Fort Garry has only just now starting showing up out here in BC, and this is a great Eisbock to keep the cold at bay right now.
  • Saltspring Fireside — You know, we don’t get enough of this guy over here. A pleasant mug sipper for those with masonry fireplaces, giant dogs to use as foot-warmers, and awesome lounging jackets.
  • Howe Sound Woolly Bugger — Also a good sipper, if not the best Barley Wine out there. Buy it for the tiny wee bottle if nothing else. (The bottle is actually the recommended serving size for barley wine. I’ll let you ponder that while looking at that empty Old Cellar Dweller in front of you this holiday season).
  • Central City Thor’s Hammer — Expected out mid-December. This is one tasty barley wine; I still think it should be a crime to not bottle this.

Also rans:

  • Dead Frog Christmas Beeracle — Just not very good at all, sorry guys.
  • Central City Winter Ale — Did someone have an accident with the hop bucket while brewing this year’s batch? Much too hoppy for my liking. UPDATE: CC informs me this is on purpose. I’m on the fence, but perhaps they’re about to make a new style? Check it out.

Lastly, I haven’t including anything by the non-bottling brew pubs, as the list was already getting a bit longish. In short, this is prime malty beer brewing and drinking season, so everyone should get out to their local and consume, consume, consume.

Written by chuck

November 29th, 2011 at 12:16 pm

6 Responses to 'Walking in a Winter Wonderland (December Beer of the Month)'

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  1. Nice list! I cleaned out a good chunk of my cellar with eskimodave a little while ago, I regret forgetting to invite you.
    That’s too bad about the Red Racer Winter Ale. I actually enjoyed last year’s quite a bit. I’ll have to compare. I hope Iain’s Oud Bruin comes out. It might not be available this year because it wasn’t souring properly.


    29 Nov 11 at 22:17

  2. Did a vertical of Hermannator not too long ago, from 2007 to this year’s. 2010 was the best of the bunch, by a long shot. I hope the 2011 batch ages as well, but I have bad feeling going in that it’s just a different starting point from the 2010, and not in a good way.

    I’m totally with you on the Red Racer. Not in the same league as last year’s.

    And I’m really, REALLY surprised you like the Fort Garry Eisbock.

    Dave S.

    1 Dec 11 at 00:27

  3. @Dave – I know. The 2011 just seems… thinner, I guess. I’m still grabbing some and putting it down, because it’s a great price for great potential, but I’m not sure how much luck I’ll have.

    As to the Ft Garry, I’m surprised you didn’t like it 🙂 Is it the best Ice Bock? Nope. Is it one of the best? Nope. Is it $7 a bottle and really not that bad? Yup. It has a little more character and caramel than the Hermannator right now, so that alone gets it a mention.


    1 Dec 11 at 12:49

  4. Agree, thinner is a good word for the 2011 batch. I’d happily buy two or three 2011s to put down, but I’m pretty hesitant to go in on a whole six pack. (Then again, I was also totally not sold on the fresh 2010 batch, so maybe I just need to do it and wait and see.)

    So yeah, Ft. Garry. I thought it was overly bitter with some vegetal, almost garbage-like notes. Yeah, really. It felt really sloppy and didn’t strike me as something that would improve drastically with age. Are you going to hold on to a few bottles? I would definitely try it again next year, but I’m not curious enough to hold onto one myself.

    Dave S.

    2 Dec 11 at 23:56

  5. Not to flog a thoroughly deceased mammal of the equine persuasion, but I had the Ft. Garry Eisbock again a few nights back at Bitter. On draft it was far more tolerable than the bottle, to the point where I think I actually liked it. Big caramel and cherry flavour, none of those garbage notes I picked up on last time.

    Guess I judged too soon.

    Dave S.

    22 Dec 11 at 00:11

  6. Hey Dave, I almost wonder if that bottle you had was slightly struck, since our experiences were so very different but our pallets are generally in tune. Pure speculation, of course, as it’s impossible to go back in time and do a side by side.


    22 Dec 11 at 10:35

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