Today’s holiday pick comes from beer writer Stan Hieronymus, author of Brew Like a Monk and the upcoming Brewing with Wheat, as well as editor of RealBeer.com and creator of The Session and one of the most knowledgeable beer folks I’ve ever met. Stan’s pick makes me want to hop a plane to New Mexico.
Although Bock Holiday from Rio Grande was a great beer name New Mexico does not exactly have a Christmas (oops, make that winter seasonal) beer tradition. Brewpubs make some my-ears-feel-like-they-are-on-fire beers perfect for cold weather (barleywines and imperial stouts) and we get our share of Christmas beers from California, Colorado, Oregon, Belgium and even Dexter, Michigan. But when we get together with friends this weekend for a holiday beer tasting we won’t be enjoying much from New Mexico.
So my ears as well as well as my tongue perked up when I first tasted this beer out of a lagering tank many weeks ago. “I want to put it on (tap) for Christmas, to have something special,” said Ted Rice, who is in charge of operations at the Marble Brewery. Don’t you like the sound of that? A gift for the customers, albeit one they’ll pay for. It will be sold only at the brewery’s often packed tasting room, a reward for those who drink with others.
Rice also filled two used bourbon barrels with the beer, then a couple more used bourbon barrels with the beer and a blend of wild yeast. It could be a gift that keeps on giving. But for now it’s a straight-on Belgian-inspired dark strong ale. A hefty helping of dark syrup in the boiling kettle gives it a rich fruitiness and some candy sweetness, balanced by spicy notes (blame yeast from the Ardennes) and a dry finish.
OG: 21.2 °P