Thanksgiving is over, and I figured why not start the shopping season with another beer post, as well as with a song about the greatest thing to come from Cleveland since Pere Ubu? That's right—Great Lakes Christmas! It’s a very quaffable beer, brewed with just enough spice to make it seasonal, and strong enough to make you want to write stupid folk songs about it (see link), or at least listen to Pere Ubu's fantastic Datapanik From The Year Zero box set. Yesterday at work a couple of Clevelanders bought us out of Great Lakes Christmas because it's impossible to find in its hometown. Sorta Ohio's equivalent to our struggle to find the elusive Founders CBS, I suppose. As for myself, currently I'm drinking a Goose Island Bourbon County Stout. But before I get into that, please enjoy this slight rant/brass tacks about rare beers:
There are some beers that’s demand far (farfarfar) exceeds supply. To have any chance of getting even a single bottle of these worship-worthy beers, your best (probably only) bet is to get on a waiting list long in advance. Still, the bottom line is that a whole lot of the beer will be purchased by the store's employees (sorry, y’all, one of the few perks of the job), really good customer$, and those who quite frankly bribe managers (though I myself have yet to succumb to such deprived mechanisms; and it’s completely by chance that that fella who last year bestowed upon me that holiest of grails, a Three Floyd’s Dark Lord, is now sitting pretty on many a list this year; yep, pure chance). And to those who call the store the day the beer is rumored to hit the streets, as many myriads do, please be advised that this usually yields nothing, as the fates of those beers have already been decided weeks if not months ago in a dark and smoky room filled with maniacal laughter. The moral of the story: uh….
What was I saying…? Oh, yes! So this year I somehow managed to get a huge two entire bottles of Goose Island’s Bourbon Stout (a feat even for a beer clerk). And in spite of all of the headaches involved with the release of the beer—the dates got pushed back, the amount available dropped in half, none of the "rare" ones were available—this is one great beer. Hints of vanilla, a little bourbon burn—just frigging great. Bug your local beer manager (unless you're in Elmhurst!) to get a bottle or two. He'll probably give you the previously explained "you and everyone else" sigh, in which case make sure to sign up for next year's list!
Another super rare release that just came out is Firestone Walker XV. A blend of 8 (!) different beers aged in bourbon, brandy and beer barrels, and blended by winemakers. The brewery is located around Paso Robles, California, so there's no lack of beer loving winemakers (they say a lot of good beer goes into making a great wine). The beer is blended with various brown ales, IPAs, and stouts, so it doesn't really have a style except for Strong Ale (at 12.5%, it certainly is!). It is very, very complex. I drank one last night and am saving my other bottle in my cellar (well, kitchen shelf) for a while.
On the not-so-rare, won't-break-the-bank, go-to-the-liquor-store-and-get-something-good front, my next beer is Great Divide Hibernation Ale. An excellent version of an English Old Ale, which is a style few do well. Certainly a sipper with a bit of hops and a whole lot of malt, this will do until they start importing Old Peculiar again. Great Divide also releases a barrel-aged version of the Yeti this time of year, and it’s well worth your investment if you like a complex stout.
Another great beer released this time of year is Big Eddy by Leinenkugal. An Imperial Stout brewed by a brewery that is not usually known for making great beer. However, pick this one up if you like great stout. Also, Point's St. Brendans and Sierra Nevada Celebration are also decent inexpensive 12ers this time of year, especially Celebration, which is so damn hoppy!
Hopefully, I'll have the finances to do a Belgian Christmas ale round-up in a few weeks. Till then see you at the Founders Invasion at the Bavarian Lodge on Thursday!
Beers, Steers and Queers!