The Vas Review – Holiday and Winter Seasonals Volume 3

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

All of the major gift-giving holidays are over and I didn’t receive a gift from you…again. I’ve been dropping hints for the past couple of weeks!  Instead of feeling too sorry for myself, I went down to Vas Foremost and found some holiday surprises still on the shelf. In this week’s Vas Review, we take a look at two classic holiday and winter beers. Get them quick before I drink all of them.

A simple, but gorgeous label.

A simple, but gorgeous label.

Brooklyn Winter Ale

Style: Scottish-style Ale

ABV: 6.1%

The story of Brooklyn Brewery is a fascinating one. At one time a hub for breweries, the city of Brooklyn fell victim to prohibition and the great consolidation of breweries in the mid-1900’s leaving not one brewery behind. In the mid-1980’s, a journalist and avid homebrewer named Steve Hindy developed a friendship with his neighbor, Tom Potter. That friendship included a lot of beer drinking (Steve’s homebrews) and a lot of dreaming out loud. In 1988, Steve and Tom realized their dream with Brooklyn Brewery.

Brooklyn Brewery pours out a deep red color showing my reflection in the glass. Its aroma is rich and wonderful, yet it doesn’t want to loan me a couple of bucks. Fruity, bready, and sweet with a touch of caramel and smoke. Who needs hops?

You’ll be greeted by a dominating malty taste as you venture along. Sweet cherry pie filling with a dry biscuit and cracker arrangement. Very subtle complementing smoke flavor and just a spoonful of caramel for depth. At one point, the beer has a distinct dry, grainy taste that leads to a finish of bread crumbs and fruitiness.

Brooklyn Winter Ale is a little bit lighter than most winter beers but should not be overlooked. Mostly because you can see my reflection in it, and I look pretty good tonight in my Winter sweater. Yep, pretty good.

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Railroad christmas tree

Great Lakes Christmas Ale

Style: Winter Warmer

ABV: 7.5%

Cleveland shares a very similar story to Brooklyn. In the late 1870’s, Cleveland was a hotbed for breweries. Prohibition and consolidation took its toll on this city and by the 1980’s, not one brewery was left. To Patrick and Daniel Conway, this was unacceptable. In 1988 they opened what would become Cleveland’s first brewpub and microbrewery, the Great Lakes Brewing company. Today the Great Lakes Brewing Company has grown to become one of the largest craft breweries in the United States.

Great Lakes Christmas Ale is a classic. It is a beautifully copper-colored beer that is perfectly clear. As I look at the beer I can not only see my kitchen right side up, but up-side down. This beer must be a WITCH!

The aroma is full of sweetness and spices. Ginger, honey, and a sweet red licorice. As you really dig in, the cinnamon starts to say hello. The first sip is dangerously addicting as I immediately want another. Bread crumbs sprinkled on a fruitcake with a gingersnap dusted with cinnamon. Warm and with a slightly fuller body, I know why this beer was meant to be drank on Christmas.

Great Lakes Christmas Ale won’t be around much longer. Because I am going to drink it. All of it. And leaving nothing for you.

Merry Christmas, you filthy animal….and a Happy New Year. (Obligatory Home Alone 2 reference).

 

Next time in the Vas Review: Back to the brewery spotlight!

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

Winter in Chicago…

THE VAS BLOG – INSIGHTS ON THE ART OF DRINKING

 George here – and I can happily say that, after a prolonged fall here in Chicago, it appears that winter is finally here.  Snow is on the ground, a chill is in the air, and Vas Foremost is here with plenty of good winter beers to help you relax after shoveling out of Chicago’s first major snowfall of the year! 

Earlier this week, after finishing my own shoveling, I lit the fireplace at home, grabbed some beers from the fridge, and fired up the laptop.  After some nuanced study of the subject at hand, some of my picks for great winter beers that we currently have in stock include the following:

Sam Adams Winter Lager (6 pack $8.69, 12 pack $13.99) – One of my personal favorites during the winter, Beeradvocate.com says of this brew: “Quite a complex brew, smooth and rounded palate. Spices are at a perfect level and the hopping of this brew is nearly perfect. This is a nice meaty lager that will help get through the cold months.”

 Bell’s Winter White Ale (6 pack $9.99) – I’ve had my share of winter weather in Michigan, and Bell’s is set to deliver with this great witbier.  Its color is a nice gold, and the taste is perfectly balanced.  A slightly hoppy touch and good carbonation add to the crispness of taste.   

Anderson Valley – Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale (6 pack $9.99) – A nice, smooth Ale with a creamy, caramel flavor and taste. The malts and hops are well balanced for an overall clean taste.

 

Bridgeport Ebenezer Ale (6 pack $8.99) – A rich, dark beer.  This is very smooth, and lightly carbonated.  For me, this really hits the spot as far as a winter beer goes, with a somewhat fruity, nutty tone, and a warm feel overall.

An honorable mention in this week’s post:  Bell’s Hop Slam (6 pack $18.99) We just got this year’s shipment this past week, and it’s been very popular so far.  I’m including this as a winter beer because it’s released in the winter. I’ll  be covering it in detail next week.

Thanks for checking in! I’ll see everyone here again next week!