Last week, Jeff & I went to back-to-back beer tastings at Arbor Brewing and Whole Foods respectively. I love Arbor tastings because some of my friends pour (this time we saw Angela, Dede, Cindy, Team Jeff, Dave as Kwanzaa Klaus and Mike H. and of course a bunch of people I didn’t know) and that is always fun. Also, they have perogies and meatballs. MMMMMMM!! Oh, and the beer is pretty good, too!
This year, my favorites were Heavy Seas Winter Storm, Rogue Santa’s Private Reserve and, surprisingly, Iqhilika Fig Meade. The Heavy Seas was mildly bitter, according to my tasting notes with a nice aftertaste. It was hoppy with a caramel-vanilla taste. I was surprised to find out it was 7.7% ABV because it went down way easily.
I always love me some Rogue and this year’s Santa’s Private Reserve did not disappoint. Malty up front, hoppy to finish (I scribbled down “pine” so that makes me think that I meant I tasted piney hops at some point).
The biggest surprise for me was the fig meade that I had. The only honey that I like is this particular brand of whipped honey that I buy at Great Harvest Bread Company and put on my morning English muffins. It is from mid-Michigan and I truly believe that the local pollen in the honey has helped my allergies. I do not like regular honey though and therefore do not usually like mead. But man, batten down the hatches cuz this stuff is GOOD!!!! It’s called Iqhilika Fig Meade from ZA, which I’m not sure what that ZA stands for. It was like drinking a warm, spicey fig. But with alcohol! They had is warmed up in the basement and I honestly could have spent all night there!
This figginess was great because I got to sing (softly) “Give us figgy pudding, figgy pudding, give us figgy pudding” but the tune I was singing morphed into the old sorority drinking song which goes, “Here’s to Sister Patti, Sister Patti, Sister Patti, here’s to Sister Patti who’s with us tonight. Drink motherfucker drink motherfucker drink motherfucker”. So my song went “Give us figgy pudding, figgy pudding, figgy pudding, give us figgy pudding who’s with us tonight. Drink motherfucker, etc.”
But I couldn’t stay in the basement and sing all night cuz there were other rooms of beer. Other notable beers featured were Calabaza Noel from Jolly Pumpkin, Dark Horse Coffee Dopplebock, Bell’s Christmas Ale and Huyghe Delirium Noel (the one with the pink elephants on it that I call the Christmas Pink Elephant beer).
Because one beer tasting is never enough, Jeff and I went to our friend Jimmy’s holiday beer tasting at Whole Foods. Jimmy puts on a great tasting and we got to sit in that kitchen at the front of Whole Foods. When you walk in, turn left and keep walking and you will eventually see it behind two glass doors. It was always like a Secret Mystery Room for me and I was quite pleased to get to actually go inside. I am easily pleased, as you may have guessed.
We started with the “Cable Car”, which is a beer that is exclusive to Whole Foods. Not sure who actually brews it. (Trader Joe’s has something similar in its stores). It is a good starter beer, good gateway beer or, as I like to say, a good “palate cleanser”. It was very light tasting, light brown in color but did have some Christmas-y spices to it.
Next, we had Bell’s Winter Ale, which is most definitely Belgian-style. I do not care for Belgian style beers, so Jeff finished mine. He says it was “to style”, with a nice floral palate. We then moved onto Sierra Nevada’s Celebration Ale which is a personal favorite of mine. It is hoppy, malty and kinda strong. Next was the Anchor Christmas Ale which I somehow hadn’t tried at Arbor the night before. It was very dark and kinda figgy looking. So I got to sing my song again.
Anyway, it didn’t taste figgy. It tasted spicey and strong…we think we detected anise and nutmeg spices. Next was Jolly Pumpkin’s Noel de Calabaza. This is a great beer! Full of figs (!!!), malt, raisins and even a nut taste. Lastly was Bell’s Christmas Ale which had a “spicy but clean” taste, according to my tasting notes. I am reading about the beer right now though and Bell’s says that it doesn’t actually contain any spices. Huh. It tasted mildly spicey so I’m not sure what to tell you.
These two beer tastings were a great way to kick off what is sure to be a great winter of drinking beer! Cheers!