How to brew up holiday cheer with craft beer
By MICHAEL FELBERBAUM The Associated Press December 5, 2013 7:02AM
This product image released by The Boston Beer Co. shows the limited release beer, Sam Adams Utopia. First introduced by Sam Adams founder Jim Koch in 2002, Utopias begins its evolution as malt and hops fermented with several yeast strains, including one normally used for sparkling wine. The beer then is blended with a few different brews, some of which have been aged in different wood barrels for more than 20 years. (AP Photo/The Boston Beer Co.)
Updated: January 6, 2014 12:51PM
RICHMOND, Va. — Gone are the days when only a bottle of wine — or maybe a bottle of the hard stuff — would suffice as a gift to bring your holiday party host.
Today, craft beers have the respect they deserve, opening up fresh ways to share the joy this season.
So with gift-giving and revelry in mind, we’ve sorted through the options to suss out a few beers that are sure to bring holiday cheer.
(from New Holland Brewing Co. in Holland, Mich.)
Style: Barrel-aged stout
Alcohol: 10 percent
Named after special ale made exclusively for royalty and served at great 17th century feasts, Dragon’s Milk is a strong ale aged in oak for more than 90 days. Dark in color, this barrel-aged stout has flavors of vanilla, coffee, chocolate and dried fruit. The aging process imparts bourbon and wood notes that blend with the roasted malt.
The beer was first released in 2001 as a seasonal beer, but gained a following and became a year-round offering around 2009. Its popularity led New Holland Brewing to double production of the beer last year and expand their facility.
Price: $9 per 22-ounce bottle, $16 for four-pack of 12-ounce bottles, or $110 for a 3-liter bottle.
SANTA’S PRIVATE RESERVE (from Rogue Ales in Newport, Oregon)
Style: Red ale
Alcohol: 6 percent
Rouge Ale’s annual holiday offering is a double-hopped red ale made with hops and barley from the brewery’s own farm. The brewery and distillery founded in 1988 even malted the grain in the beer themselves. The result is a two-time World Beer Championship gold medal-winning amber beer with a roasted caramel malt flavor and a hoppy pine finish.
Price: $7 for a 22-ounce bottle, or $25 for a gift box with a bottle and a glass.
BOURBON COUNTY BRAND STOUT (from Goose Island Beer Co. in Chicago)
Style: Barrel-aged imperial stout
Alcohol: 14.5 percent (differs by variant)
Goose Island’s former brew master Greg Hall began producing Bourbon County Brand Stout in 1992 in honor of the 1,000th beer batch at its brewpub. At first, no one was sure what to make of the beer — sort of like cavemen creating the wheel, said current brew master Brett Porter. But it has since become a favorite and coveted craft beer for its intense mix of smoky, chocolate, vanilla, caramel and, of course, bourbon flavors.
Last year more than 400 people lined up in Chicago on Black Friday for a chance to purchase Bourbon County Brand Stout and its variants. The imperial stout is aged in bourbon barrels for various periods of time.
Price: Around $25 for a 22-ounce bottle, but can differ by market and variety.