The Vas Review – Holiday and Winter Seasonals Volume 2

A weekly review of Vas Foremost’s craft beer offerings.

Christmas is even closer upon us in this week’s Vas Review. If you haven’t gotten that perfect gift for someone yet, what are you waiting for? Seriously, you are dropping the ball here big time. It’s a good thing you’ve come to me for help. In this week’s Vas Review, I give you two more options for that perfect gift…for me.

 

Is anybody going to eat that?

Is anybody going to eat that?

Samuel Adams – Merry Maker

Style: Imperial Stout / Spice, Herb, Vegetable Beer.

ABV: 9.0%

Samuel Adams, Boston Beer. Call it what you want, anyone who has ever tried a craft beer knows the name and has tried at least one of their beers. If you look beyond their famous Lager, you’ll see that Boston Beer is pushing the boundaries and churning out some incredibly inventive beer. One of those beers is Merry Maker, a self described Gingerbread Stout. If that doesn’t sound delicious to you, then there is no hope.

Strap in tight and hold onto the edge of that sled, this is going to be a sleigh ride. Merry Maker is black and opaque with a thick, unrelenting deep cinnamon-colored head. The aroma is a gingerbread house. I just hope the homeowner isn’t home for the next part.

Merry Maker’s taste takes you to another place. The deep roasted malts paired off with the spices remind of that after dinner coffee with dessert on Christmas night. Nutmeg and clove are particularly strong with cinnamon coming into play towards the end. Slightly bitter with a thick but not quite chewy mouthfeel make this one a sipper. It is a little fruity at times too with a deep, dark cherry covered in chocolate.

I imagine Merry Maker in only one way, the delicious water from a moat defense system surrounding the house of a very reserved gingerbread man and his wife. Do you think the alligators in that moat like beer?

 

Looks like the ghosts of Christmas already got to him.

Looks like the ghosts of Christmas already got to him.

Bridgeport – Ebenezer Ale

Style: Winter Warmer

ABV: 6.4%

Portland, Oregon. A location of early innovation in the Craft Beer movement and often called “Beervana.” With over 50 breweries within the city limits (and over 70 in the metro area), its not hard to understand why it has earned that nickname. 30 years ago, this wasn’t the case. Bridgeport Brewing sought to change that when in 1984 it became Oregon’s very first craft brewer.

Bridgeport’s Ebenezer Ale pours out like a wrapped Christmas present, about to get destroyed and enjoyed by me. Visually speaking though, it is an opaque brown showcasing deep red highlights.

The aroma is a malt bomb. Down with the hops this holiday season. If you put this beer next to a piece of toast with peanut butter and dark fruity jam on it, you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. (Unless you open your eyes, which I suggest you do, if you’re eating toast.)

The first sip leads immediately to another. The warm and welcoming lightly toasted bread with fig jam is paired off with a juicy yet slightly bitter plum. The malt flavors drop down the chimney loud and proud letting us know that they do exist. With all of this commotion going on inside of our mouths, you would think that this beer would be just a tad overly sweet. That is certainly not the case as a moderate dryness has me believing and wanting to share this holiday joy with the world! Or maybe just five other people.

You there! What day is it?! Why…it is Christmas morning Mr. Scrooge. Christmas?!?! Shoot. I should have went and bought Ebenezer Ale yesterday. Forget the Christmas goose kid, I have to go to the liquor store quickly before they close early.

Next week in the Vas Review: Our final installment of Holiday and Winter beers!

Steve Pasko is a Certified Cicerone® and the Beer Content Writer for Vas Foremost. Follow him on Twitter or Untappd at Gardemybiere. Email him at Gardemybiere@gmail.com or Steve@vasforemost.com

The Vas Review – Holiday and Winter Seasonals Volume 1

A weekly review of Vas Foremost’s craft beer offerings.

It’s Christmas time again – the season of joy and giving! In the mad dash to buy all of our friends and family something special, we often forget about the most important person on our lists: ourselves. This year, don’t forget about the person in the mirror. Treat yourself to some holiday suds this year.

 

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The best type of spice – beer.

Lakefront Brewery – Holiday Spice Lager Beer

Style – Herb / Spiced Beer

ABV – 9.4%

Our friends from just up I-94, Lakefront Brewery, specialize in “lagers” and have been brewing beer for 25 years now! This holiday season they bring us their winter seasonal brew, Holiday Spice Lager Beer. If you ever get a chance, get up to Milwaukee and take a tour of Lakefront’s brewery. It is without a doubt, one of the best tours I have ever been on.

Holiday Spice is a deep brown beer with garnet red highlights. The aroma is absolutely wonderful. The spice additions lead the charge with an enticing nutmeg and cinnamon aroma. A spicy clove plays up to the nutmeg and cinnamon perfectly while a light orange and fruitiness sweetness give the beer depth. (A pinch of fruitcake for good measure.)

If you thought the aroma was good, wait ’til the taste. The first to hit your taste buds is a potent nutmeg taste paired off with some cinnamon, allspice, and fruitcake. A spicy clove taste adds a perfect tingle to the mouthfeel. In the background lingers a Terry’s Chocolate Orange and a little bit of honey sweetness. A gingerbread man joins the party and dances around cheerfully.

The Christmas holiday season, brewed and bottled for your liking. Pour Lakefront’s Holiday Spice Lager Beer into a glass and enjoy as the holiday cheer makes you feel better inside. Wait, that’s probably the alcohol.

 

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Wish I was there

Widmer Brothers – Brrr

Style: Winter Warmer

ABV: 7.2%

A Portland Oregon institution, the Widmer Brothers Brewery has been cranking out beer for almost 30 years! One of its most popular seasonal offerings is Brrr. Released every winter, Brrr stands up to the cold and warms up your fingers and toes.

Brrr pours out a beautiful moderate brown color with copper and ruby highlights. Brilliantly clear, this is one gorgeous looking brew. The aroma begins with a nose of caramel and some holiday chestnuts. Next is a very light chocolate spread on a piece of toast. Doesn’t sound like a bad way to start off your morning, does it? True to the hop head in all of us, a citrus and pine tree note have us wondering if it is summer or winter.

The first sip of Brrr takes care of that argument (Spoiler alert! It’s snowing outside). Big and bold flavors of caramel candies, lightly burnt toast and Fig Newton bars. Imagine showing up to a party with those as the appetizers. Just make sure to bring me with. Brrr continues on and never strays away from its origin. (Oregon is one of the leading producers of hops in the U.S.). The citrus and pine flavors balance off the wonderful malt flavors bring a bit of depth to this beer. The finish is on the dry side, leaving my mouth watering and wanting more.

Brrr. It’s cold in here. Pop off the cap of Widmer Brother’s Winter seasonal and warm up them bones. If you are still cold after one, have another. It does come with five friends, after all.

Other Winter seasonal offerings available at Vas Foremost include:  Breckenridge Christmas Ale, Anchor Brewing Christmas Ale, Great Lakes Christmas Ale, Bell’s Christmas Ale, Sierra Nevada Celebration, Cicso Brewer’s Winter Shredder, Bell’s Winter White Ale, Berghoff Winter Ale, New Belgium Accumulation White IPA, Brooklyn Winter Ale, Deschutes Jubelale, 3Floyds Alpha Klaus and Revolution Brewing’s Fistmas.

Next week in the Vas Review: More winter and holiday fun!

Steve Pasko is a Certified Cicerone® and the Beer Content Writer for Vas Foremost. Follow him on Twitter or Untappd at Gardemybiere. Email him at Gardemybiere@gmail.com or Steve@vasforemost.com

The Vas Review – Spiteful Brewing

A weekly review of Vas Foremost’s craft beer offerings.

Brad Shaffer and Jason Klein have been friends since childhood. They are such good friends that they A) wear half-heart chain necklaces that connect to each other or B) started a brewery together in 2010. In this case, it’s the latter. In this week’s Vas Review, I drink up two beers from another toddler-aged brewery in Chicago, Spiteful Brewing. Cheers!

 

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I lost 5 pounds by switching to the Fat Badger weight loss system!

Fat Badger

Style: Irish Red Ale

ABV: 7.6%

It may not be March, but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy what the Irish have to offer. No, I’m not talking about that Irish Dry Stout that starts with a “G” and ends with a “uinness” and that comes to us from Africa (sad, but true). I am talking about the other, lesser known Irish contribution to the beer world – the Irish Red Ale. It’s history is a mystery for the most part but its wonderful taste is undeniable. Leave your gluttony at the door, folks and indulge in Spiteful Brewing’s Fat Badger.

If you quit looking at the wonderful designed label of the literal fat badger, you’ll see a muddily opaque brown ale. Yes, it’s brown and not red. Some beers in this style category will see a red hue, but some won’t.

Before we drink, we take a nose to the aroma. There is a wide range of influence going on here from the west coast of the U.S. to the British Isles. The British brewing influence shows us caramel, toffee, biscuit, and a malty backbone. Unique to this beer, the aroma has a moderately strong hop presence with some pine notes. Typically, you won’t see that in an Irish Red. For the most part in this style, hop aroma and flavors are restrained. (Damn American influence.)

Spoiler alert! The beer tastes nothing like the pizza and hamburger on the label. You find me a man who can make a beer taste like that, and I’ll start signing my paychecks over to him immediately. Fat Badger is a malt party in my mouth. It’s slightly fruity, showing toasted malt notes, toffee, caramel, biscuit, and some breadiness. The hops crash the party and show off a wet pine tree-like flavor. (Wet pine tree…don’t you just love how beer geeks sell the flavors in a beer?) The beer itself is pretty thick and it dries out a little bit on the backend leaving a breaded fruitiness behind.

I lied a little bit in the past paragraph. As it turns out, I don’t want my beer to taste like pizza and hamburgers. I want my beer to taste like this. So let’s all turn a little bit Irish and kiss the first red-head we see.

 

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Nice nose, Marcus.

Jingle Balls

Style: Winter Warmer

ABV: 7.6%

Jingle Balls…enough said. Spiteful Brewing takes aim to warm up our taste buds and tickle our funny bone with their new winter ale. Think the label for Fat Badger was clever? Wait ‘til you see this one. Let the innuendos fly as the holiday cheer lowers our inhibitions. Marcus, show me what you got.

Jingle Balls

Dashing through this beer
Flavors of ginger and nutmeg are clear
Cinnamon bread on the nose
Fruitiness and caramel impose

Some woodiness from the hops
and a cherry put right on top
what fun is it to laugh and drink
a beer from Spiteful Brewing

O!

Jingle Balls
Jingle Balls
A thick mouthfeel that finishes dry
No need to try
the jokes are implied
and better than I could provide

Jingle Balls
Jingle Balls
raise your glasses with a toast
just take a peak
if you want to see
what’s underneath Marcus’s mistletoe.

See you next week!

Additional offerings from Spiteful Brewing available at Vas Foremost include: Time Stealers Molasses Porter, Corporate Guy Wheat, Pigeon Porter, Alley Time Pale Ale, Negative Nancy Imperial Red, GFY Stout, Debbie Downer Dunkelweizen, and In the Weeds Wheat.

 

Steve Pasko is a Certified Cicerone® and the Beer Content Writer for Vas Foremost. Follow him on Twitter or Untappd at Gardemybiere. Email him at Gardemybiere@gmail.com or Steve@vasforemost.com. 

The Vas Review – Lake Effect

A weekly review of Vas Foremost’s craft beer offerings.

Dreams can come true. For Clint Bautz and Lynn Ford, Lake Effect Brewing Company is the realization of a dream. In dog years, this brewery is still a puppy. In this week’s Vas Review I sample two beers from the new brewery on the northwest side of Chicago that everybody is talking about.

 

Lake Effect Snow

Ugh, don't remind me.

Ugh, don’t remind me.

Style: Witbier

ABV: 5.5%

I’ve prepared well for this one. I’ve assembled a couple of extra blankets, some hand warmers, and a 60-pound dog who loves to cuddle. Grab the bottle opener and lift the cap off of Lake Effect Snow. (No, not the dreaded precipitation that causes us to have an impromptu car abandonment party on Lake Shore Drive.) Lake Effect Snow is a Witbier from Chicago’s own Lake Effect Brewery.

Lake Effect Snow (Snow from here on out) pours out the middle of a blizzard, cloudy and temptingly opaque. With my snow pants, gloves and jacket on I push forward into the beer. The aroma makes me forget about the cold with orange citrus, coriander spice, and fresh cut hay from the farm. If that weren’t enough, a slight woodiness from the hops and a touch of lemon and pepper from the yeast have me pulling out my grill thinking my friends are coming over for a summer BBQ.

It’s time to embrace the inevitable and welcome the Snow into my life.

Be prepared for a spicy, peppery and coriander taste upon the first sip. The citrus from the aroma translates into a lemongrass taste with a very gentle bitter orange settling in mid-palette. Into the vocabulary of a beer geek we must go for the next taste – hay. Yes, hay. I’m sure most of us without an older brother have never tasted hay. But we all know what it smells like and could take a guess on to what it tastes like. In this case, the hay flavor is most certainly welcome as it balances the citrus and pepper tastes, lending a drinkable dryness to the beer.

So embrace Lake Effect Snow and have a snowball fight, go sledding or make a snow angel. Just make sure you drink this beer after the festivities, and not during. (After all, spilling beer is one of the seven deadly sins.)

 

Falcon Dive IPA

Rodents beware!

Rodents beware!

Style: American-Style India Pale Ale

ABV: 7.0%

Ah, the American IPA. The most popular and best-selling style of craft beer in the United States. Known for its more pronounced bitterness and flavors of citrus and pine, this style of beer has burrowed its way into our hearts and set up a nest in there. Lake Effect Brewing Company tries its hand at the style with Falcon Dive IPA.

Falcon Dive pours out a copper tangerine hue, proudly showing its feathers. Darting quickly out of the trees is a fruity aroma highlighted by a fresh squeezed orange citrus aroma. Hidden a little bit more in the forrest are some biscuit, toffee and toasted malt aromas.

Squawk! What about the cracker?!

Crackers? Yes, they’re in there. But…aren’t you a falcon?

Interruptions aside, the first thing that hits you in the taste is a mineral-like tingle. Don’t worry – that’s supposed to be there. I’d get into a water chemistry lesson to explain, but wouldn’t we just rather drink the beer at this point? Caged up inside this brew are several distinct flavors: pine, resin, citrus and that biscuit/cracker-malt taste that Polly likes so much. There is a fairly potent bitterness that comes through, especially on the back end. It mellows out on the after taste, leaving behind some melon and toasted malt flavors.

Don’t be afraid to let this bird out of its cage. It’s friendly, doesn’t bite, and could perform some nice tricks (if you drink enough of it). And if you twaut you taw a puddy tat, put some Falcon Dive IPA in a saucer bowl for it. Cats like beer, right?

Another offering from Lake Effect available at Vas Foremost is Cruisin’ for a Brewsin’ .

 

Steve Pasko is a Certified Cicerone® and the Beer Content Writer for Vas Foremost. Follow him on Twitter or Untappd at Gardemybiere. Email him at Gardemybiere@gmail.com.