I wrote this piece on Edinburgh’s pubs during the depths of the pandemic but didn’t post it because, well, no one was sitting in pubs back then. Now seems a better fit, not least because it’s the time of year when we’re heading indoors to ward off the chill of frigid evenings. And with the new year upon us, it’s an ideal time to start thinking about which places and pubs you’ll “resolve” to visit this year or next.
A brief note: I visited Scotland well before the pandemic. All the places I visited then are still going strong. What may have changed in the intervening years is the beer selection.
“Edinburgh, where have you been all of my life?” That was my very first thought when I stepped off the train at Haymarket Station on that sunny autumn day. The stone buildings, bustling thoroughfares, and convivial pub terraces overflowing with people reminded me of London. But the further I got from Haymarket Station, the more Edinburgh revealed its own unique charms, by turns cosmopolitan and whimsical.
Judging American Wild Ales and traditional European Sour Ales can be a tricky business. Being familiar with the wide assortment and possibility of flavor compounds and a keen ability to understand how they work (or don’t work) together takes experience and training. Which can be challenging when suitable commercial examples are hard to come by in some areas. Additionally, homebrewers that utilize a mixed fermentation, Brettanomyces, and/or souring bacteria in their beers can be a fairly passionate group. Producing beers that can sometimes be years in the making with expression as intricate as stained glass. Given all this, judging can sometimes be hard to navigate for the novice or uninitiated. To help with this, the BJCP Communications Team decided to ask a few experts their views on best practice when judging these styles.
November typically heralds the arrival of Biere de Noel, or Christmas beer, on store shelves. Charlie Gottenkieny, co-founder of Bruz Beers in Denver and two-time AHA Homebrewer of the Year, explains that the modern style harks back to a special beer that brewers offered to their patrons each holiday season, usually with a stronger-than-typical punch. Christmas beers are not always high ABV beers bombs however, and its not uncommon for a brewery to make their holiday offering special by bumping up the flavor and alcohol on their flagship beer. “On the continent they started spicing them,” explains Gottenkieny, but “less so in England,” where holiday beers tend to be maltier and stronger than their everyday pints, old ales and British strong ales that are often called winter warmers. Consistent with their brewing culture, American brewers tend to spice their Noel beers with a heavier hand and bolder flavors than the Belgians do, setting up a trichotomy in world culture of holiday beers.
Tis the season, once again. Chances are you’ve fended off the icy grip of a frosty December night with a cup of mulled wine at some point in your life, especially if you’ve been to Europe around this time of year. But mulled beer?
Last year I related the story about my first sip of Glühwein (mulled wine) in the western German city of Saarbrücken. Aromas of baking spice, roasted nuts, and pine boughs drifted fragrantly in the bracing winter air, leading me not only to the Christkindl market in the main square, but also setting me down the path of annual Glühwein parties and get-togethers.IMG_5371
A few decades on, I did what might well come naturally to a catholic imbiber like myself: I heated up a bunch o’ beer and spiced it. Turns out the whole endeavour isn’t without historical precedent.
ST. LOUIS, MO —Schlafly Beer, the original, independent craft brewery in St. Louis, announces today the return of its winter sampler pack, Stout Bout, which features four stouts, including two new stouts, one year-round and one returning favorite: Mexican Chocolate Stout (6% ABV), Chai Latte Stout (ABV: 6.0%), Coconut Coffee Stout (ABV: 5.7%), and Oatmeal Stout (5.7% ABV). The variety pack is now available to the public.
“The Stout Bout name is a play on the boxing term for a match, and every year, our customers wait to see what flavors or “winners” make the pack. The sampler always features one of Schlafly’s classic stouts, Oatmeal, this year, and one variety that has to make a return appearance, which was Mexican Chocolate Stout,“ says Schlafly CEO Fran Caradonna. “We’re especially excited about two new beers entering the pack this year as they were submitted by fans last year.”
Philadelphia, PA – Philadelphia’s most festive brewery Evil Genius Beer Company is gives new meaning to Christmas cheer with a holiday beer inspired by Santa himself. Santa!! I Know Him! is a festive Saison, 7.2% ABV, now in cans everywhere Evil Genius is sold – including locations in ten states (CT, DE, MA, MD, MI, NJ, OH, PA, VA and RI. This holiday saison is brewed with rose hips, chamomile, black currants and dark Belgian candi syrup. Deep, complex and intriguing, this bone-dry Belgian-style ale is sure to spice up the nights spent at home during the cold winter months. Have you been naughty or nice this year – or both? During the season, stop by for beer, cheer, spiked holiday drinks, great holiday vibes, and lots of great shopping ideas for beer lovers on your list if you are in Philly or just visiting for the season. Festivities at the Evil Genius home base “The Lab” in Fishtown include a beer release party and tree lighting, Santa 0.5k charity race around the block on December 4th. Sleigh My Name Sleigh My Name Christmas Drag Brunch returns with TWO dates this year on Saturdays, December 3rd and December 10th, from 12:00pm to 2:00pm. Sign-ups, tickets and details for events are now posted at ww.wevilgeniusbeer.com/events/
~Or, what do Melville’s white whale, a cathedral in Prague, and Weihenstephan’s Vitus have in common?~
I’ve been drinking Weihenstephan’s lush and expansive Vitus for years now, especially when the weather turns cool. I can’t get enough of that subtly spiced honey and orange zest layered over rich banana custard. But I hadn’t ever troubled myself with looking deeper into the beer’s namesake, St. Vitus, despite my fondness for another material object connected with Vitus’s memory: the imposing Gothic cathedral that looms over Prague.
But then I came across what was, for me, a puzzling reference to St. Vitus in Moby Dick. I immediately had to know what connected the dots between Moby Dick, a cathedral in Prague with some of the most wondrous stained-glass windows I’ve seen, and that elegant Weizenbock from Weihenstephan.