This New Years Eve I find myself rocking a night alone at home, sporting a party dress (with sweatpants underneath for warmth and fashion reasons, obviously) and enjoying some beers that I feel represent (in one way or another) the theme of my night.
First round tonight is the Ridgeway Lump of Coal Dark Holiday Stout. Not only is this beer super delicious but the description alone would pique anyone's interest:
"Yet another bummed-out holiday? Lump of Coal Dark Holiday Stout is liquid consolation. It's a deep, rich, sweetly rewarding stout to take the edge off of that grim family gathering, that cheerless annual festival of alienation. This brew is as dark as it gets, as black as the lump of coal you'll be getting for Christmas. Because, let's face it, you've been pretty bad this year."
It's got a sweet, spicy nose to it and I think they really nailed the taste. This is honestly one of the best stouts I've had, I wish it was available all year round (Christmas in July anyone?). Lots of complex flavors with a medium body, it's very intriguing but highly sessionable as well. As much as an 8% ABV beer can be anyways. Had a strong lingering mouth feel that isn't overly bitter. We still have one left in the fridge masquerading as a Reinbeer but that one has MGD's name written all over it. Picked up an extra bottle at World Beers, especially for tonight.
And now for a few 2011 bests & faves...
Best Beer Related Swag (won, bought or found)
-New Belgium Fat Tire Patagonia laptop/messenger bag (won at Parkway's New Belgium Brewers night)
-Pretty Things Beer and Ale Project "Stay Pretty and Drink Real Beer" T-shirt
-Hydro Flask Insulated Stainless Steel Growlers from Bitter Root Brewing Company. These things are awesome, we have 2 at home in different sizes. Advertised as keeping stuff hot for 12 hours and keeping it cold for 24... not a lie. These are ahhhhhmazing for collecting beer when traveling.
-Sweatshirt from Local Option in Chicago, IL. It's got a giant embroidered skull on the back. Was a mid-trip pressie from MGD and I wear it anywhere without people commenting on it.
Best Homebrews (from Beer Shares)
-Morgan Alexander's very own Pliny the Elder replica brew: Pliny Killer. Should be up to version 8 by now, delicious as ever. He basically nailed it and some even prefer it to Pliny...
-Matt Lacroix's Cranberry Beer (still holds a special place in my heart and mouthhole)
Best New Brewery Experiences*
-Three Floyds (Munster, IN)
*There were loads of new breweries I visited in 2011. Yet after I put Three Floyds on the list, I had a very hard time putting anything else up with it. I typed & deleted several times when I finally decided that Three Floyds stands alone as the best brewery experience I had in 2011. There were many other amazing ones, but nothing compared to and at the level of Three Floyds. We went 3 times in 2 days. It was absolutely phenomenal.
Finally finished up my moment with the Lump of Coal Stout and have moved on to a lighter beer, although it's similarly strong (7.7%): Southern Tier's Old Man Winter Ale. It's bitterness doesn't linger in the end and the hoppiness is both fragrant and refreshing. It tastes... bright. That's the best way I can describe it. Plus it's one of the most well bodied IPAs that I've ever tasted. The Southern Tier Old Man is currently standing in for my favorite old man (due to obvious similarities) on this New Years Eve, since MGD is currently outta town. I only call him old (you can't though and because he's really not) because of our age difference, it gives me happies.
While I was searching for an Old Man pic I stumbled across what can only be described as heavenly mouth deliciousness that is SO the future of my bottle of Southern Tier Creme Brulee.
-Strange Brewfest (crazy weird beers and a weekend full of revelry)
-Tacoma Craft Beer Fest (gorgeous day, beer a flowin', amazing friends... ultimate experience that still brings a smile to my face)
- WBC Brewers Fest (keg tosses, mini-golf putting for holidays and super-success for Wingman Brewers)
Best Beer Related Moments
-TCBF Lady Fwends: A group of gals came up to ask if I was the pissed liBEERian and then proceeded to tell me what big fans they were of the blog. I loved meeting them all and was beyond flattered at everything they had to say. They made my entire day/week/year/everything. It was a total 'moment' that I won't forget and feel blessed to meet and hang out with some truly great people.
-Bootlegger House Party: MGD's cross country trip resulted in some awesome beers arriving at our house upon his return. We threw a bootlegger party for some friends so everyone could try some brews you can't normally get in these here parts. We had fire, food, beer, good friends and sunshine. Couldn't be a better day and was followed up by a dip in the lake!
If I had bothered to do my research about this being a Belgian Strong Ale, I probably would have opted for opening some cellar beer or another to celebrate the occasion instead of throwing down about $23 for this guy. The aroma is heavy on the sweet and syrupy side and then counteracted by the finish which was a bit barnyardy & had a heavy yeast flavor. I'm having a kind of 'meh' feeling over it which is only exacerbated when I glance over and see how much of the beer is left. I had hoped to like it a bit more after it warmed, but no dice.
It is fairly champagney and I think those who like Belgian Strong Ales may enjoy this brew. I just need to try and remember next year that I really don't like champagne all that much unless it's in a glass with OJ. It's times like these where it's important to keep in mind that this is what trying new beers is all about, ya love some and others ya don't. Regardless, I'm happy I tried it.
-52 books with 52 beers in 52 weeks: That pretty much says it all. A spin-off of a friend's 2012 challenge with beer included. Will work on reading/reviewing a book and then pair it with a beer every week. Plus it makes the whole 'liBEERian' thing all relevant like.
-Directions: Have toyed with the idea of dropping the blog off and on over the last 6mths, for a variety of reasons. I am hoping to figure out what I want this blog to be, nail down some consistency and timelines and try to make that happen. Having this blog should create mostly fun, not stress.
-Beer: Well I certainly drink enough of it and I'd like to work on becoming more educated. About different characteristics of beers, the process, everything. I hope the 52/52/52 thing will help get me started on reviewing beers and maybe 2012 will lead to an adventure in home brewing.
Goodbye 2011 and thank you for the fun ride!
Hello 2012 and all the promise you hold!
Grabbing the essentials, a trusty minon and I'm off!
the pissed liBEERian