Bottoms Up

Beer and wine in the Bay Area and beyond

‘Tis the Season!

By Jay Brooks
Wednesday, October 21st, 2009 at 2:43 pm in On Beer.

It’s time once again to dive into the mind of Tom Dalldorf, the publisher of the Celebrator Beer News, the nationally distributed “brewspaper” that’s headquarted in Hayward.

Tom Dalldorf

Celebrating Beer with Tom Dalldorf

‘Tis the Season!

Over forty percent of all alcoholic beverage sales take place in the months of November and December. Colder damper weather requires warming elixirs and the holidays are a natural for welcoming beverages of all sorts. This is a spectacular time for beer lovers as the brewers step up to provide highly flavored and curiously inventive winter beers and ales of all descriptions.

American brewers have taken the great traditions from Europe’s finest breweries and, in their usual fashion, have done remarkable jazz riffs on styles, processes and ingredients. The results are often spectacular and every so often, well, challenging. But if the brewer likes it there is a good chance that there will be a following for just about every new expression of the brewer’s art and ingenuity.

Celebrator is gearing up for its annual blind panel tasting of Holiday and Winter beers. Be sure to check out the December/January issue for results and write-ups. Meanwhile, here are some suggestions of new beers available in the late fall and winter. It is advised to get these quickly as they are usually gone by the holidays.

Black Xantus is a rare bird indeed. Named after the black hummingbird found in parts of Mexico, it is the first ever specialty beer from Nectar Ales from the Paso Robles powerhouse Firestone Walker Brewery. Black Xantus is a bourbon barrel-aged Imperial Stout infused with coffee sourced from Jobella, a fair-trade organic coffee roaster also in Paso Robles. Only 500 cases will be produced for all of Firestone Walker’s extensive distribution regions so move quickly on this one.

Yet another bourbon barrel-aged Imperial Stout not to be missed is Pike Breweing’s Entire weighing in at 9.5% abv and with a huge roasty-chocolate flavor profile and toasty barrel character. Quite a massive beer from this iconic Seattle brewer now celebrating its 20th anniversary. Also from Pike is the Auld Acquaintance Hoppy Holiday Ale hopped with Magnum, Willamette and East Kent Goldings. This winter warmer is infused with orange peel, cinnamon, nutmeg and coriander for festive flavor but at a more modest 5% abv.

Look for exotic winter beers at better liquor stores around the bay area. City Beer Store on Folsom and Healthy Spirits on 15th Street in San Francisco and Ledger’s Liquors in Berkeley are always a good bet for the latest beers and freshest inventory. Be sure to have a good selection on hand for guests and, more importantly, your own enjoyment. Beer is still the affordable luxury so indulge yourself and share the experience with friends. ‘Tis the season, ya know.

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