Advent Beer Calendar 2014: Day 21: Solstice Winter Schnocker

Solstice C.W. SchnockerToday is the Winter Solstice, the day in the Northern Hemisphere that is the shortest day and longest night of the year. (As a bonus to the astronomical significance of the day, it’s also the new moon.) To observe and commemorate the day I thought I’d select a beer from a relative newcomer to the beer world, based in Prineville here in Central Oregon: Solstice Brewing.

For the winter season they brew a strong ale they named Winter Schnocker, which at 9.25% lands somewhere between a Winter Warmer and a strong Old Ale to my tastes. Definitely one to watch out for, lest ye be schnockered!

This year they also released a special (stronger) bourbon barrel aged version, C.W. Schnocker (pictured). Solstice partnered with Oregon Spirit Distillers (here in Bend) to use barrels from their C.W. Irwin Bourbon. The description on the bottle reads:

In this corner, we have C.W. Schnocker—a deep-red, winter ale weighing in at 10.5% ABV. After 7 months in a C.W. Irwin barrel, it’s earned a reputation for strong bourbon accents and spicy undertones, with a touch of malt and dark fruit—a true knockout winter ale.

Happy Solstice!

Untappd. BeerAdvocate (for C.W. Schnocker). RateBeer (Solstice Brewing’s page). Facebook.

Advent Beer Calendar 2014: Day 20: Avery Old Jubilation Ale

Avery Old Jubilation AleFor today I picked a classic holiday ale from Colorado’s Avery Brewing, one sure to help capture the spirit of the season: Old Jubilation Ale. Avery calls this an English Old Ale, but to my mind at 8.3% alcohol this is really approaching a Barleywine—a lovely sipping beer to enjoy by the hearth when the snow is falling outside.

Our winter strong ale has a gorgeous mahogany hue, a hint of hazelnuts, and a finish reminiscent of mocha and toffee. No spices, just a perfect blend of five specialty malts.

Food pairing: Old Jubilation Ale–most fittingly–is comfortable being sipped and quaffed alongside many large cuts of meat you typically find around the holidays. Roast duck, crown roast, rack of lamb, prime rib, herb- and honey-crusted chicken and all manner of gamebirds are great choices, as are seasonal soups made with spices like nutmeg and cinnamon.

I like their pairing suggestion of game birds—why not complete the Dickensian impression and pair Old Jubilation Ale with a Christmas goose?

Untappd. BeerAdvocate. RateBeer. Facebook.

Advent Beer Calendar 2014: Day 19: Engel Weihnachtsbier

Engel WeihnachtsbierToday’s beer pick comes from the Engel Brewery (Biermanufaktur Engel) in Germany and is named for the German word for Christmas, Weihnachten: Engel Weihnachtsbier. Interestingly enough, I cannot find much information about this beer online (on the ratings sites, for instance), but this is a 5.5% winter lager (“festival beer”) their English page describes as:

Strong flavour with markedly malty body, pleasant sweet touch with well integrated bitter, with clear, softly lingering malty character, a strong festival beer.

The the German-speaking regions that celebrate Weihnachten, the Advent period is an important part of the festivities as is St. Nicholas Day (Nikolaustag) on December 6, when St. Nicholas fills the shoes of children with sweets and small gifts. The Weihnachtsbaum (Christmas tree) is usually put up on December 24, followed by the meal, church mass, and the opening of gifts. It’s the perfect time to open up a bottle of Weihnachtsbier and enjoy the holiday.

Untappd. BeerAdvocate (brewery page). RateBeer. Facebook.

Advent Beer Calendar 2014: Day 18: Thiriez Bière De Noël

Thiriez Bière De NoëlToday’s Advent pick comes from France, from Brasserie Thiriez located in the town of Esquelbecq, north near the Belgian border. Thiriez was founded in 1996 and is “situated on the grounds that formerly housed the Poitevin farm brewery, which was active and served the local area until 1945″ (according to Wikipedia).

Each year they brew their Christmas ale—Bière De Noël, brewed to 5.8% abv and which may be in the tradition of a stronger brown ale, or perhaps even a Belgian dark ale—it changes up each year. Their own translation of their description is a bit choppy, so I cleaned it up a bit:

Christmas beer is a tradition.
At the beginning of winter, brewers of yesteryear finally had what they needed the finest fresh ingredients, and cold weather. They could brew an exceptional beer, principally amber and stronger, for Christmas.
At Esquelbecq, a special beer is created each year, according to the inspiration of the master brewer.

Brasserie Thiriez is situated in an historic barn—a true farmhouse brewery. Be sure to enjoy a northern French Christmas with a bottle of Bière De Noël.

Untappd. BeerAdvocate. RateBeer. Facebook.

Advent Beer Calendar 2014: Day 17: Jolly Roger Christmas Ale

Maritime Pacific Jolly Roger Christmas AleMaritime Pacific Brewing Company opened in 1990 in Seattle, Washington’s Ballard district, adopting a seafaring theme as a salute to Seattle’s maritime history. In 1997 they opened the Jolly Roger Taproom named, as they say, “in honor of our most popular holiday brew”: Jolly Roger Christmas Ale. Appropriately the taproom is decked out in pirate flair; as for the beer:

The most eagerly anticipated of all our seasonals, Jolly is a truly original holiday brew combining rich malt character with a blend of fresh Northwest Chinook and Cascade hops. Official insignia for this English Strong Ale style is a smiling skull-and-cross-bones, reminder to all to enjoy their Jolly, but with discretion. Join Maritime’s salute to the high seas renegade! “Yo-Ho-Ho!”

At 9% alcohol this is a hefty holiday ale, sure to shiver yer timbers and sayin’ “avast” on Christmas morning! (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)

Untappd. BeerAdvocate. RateBeer. Facebook.