And: Digging into the uber-fun hop-lesson-in-a-box that was Samuel Adams' Latitude 48 Deconstructed IPA 12-pack. The brewery took the five hops that are used to make the namesake beer, and crafted beer using one of the hops (Zeus, Simcoe, East Kent Goldings, Ahtanum, and Hallertau Mittelfrueh) which grow along the fertile 48th latitude line (yeah, it's serious beer geek territory). But you didn't have to know any of that to enjoy the variety of flavors while contrasting and comparing (though it certainly enhanced the experience). And Sierra Nevada's "The Best of Beer Camp" sampler was another delightful dozen (particularly the California Common and Weizenbock), showcasing brews concocted at its annual summer camp for beer fanatics. Huzzah!
Here's to the Small yet Big Beer Moments to come in 2012. Huzzah!
SEASONAL SELECTIONS If you're looking for a few beers to share on Christmas Day (in addition to Celebration), here are some that are worthy of a mix-a-six (or more): ROGUE'S SANTA'S PRIVATE RESERVE (a hoppy amber ale); ITHACA COLD FRONT (a Belgian-style amber, 7.2% ABV, an intriguing spin on the winter offerings); WACHUSETT WINTER (a Scotch Ale/Wee Heavy, 6.1%, with an agreeably sweet side and mega-malty); SEBAGO'S SLICK NICK (an American Strong Ale, 6.2%, subtly spiced); BBC'S HOLLIDALE (9.5%, in bombers, an American Barleywine Style Ale, a rich, flavorful brew); FULL SAIL'S WRECK THE HALLS (6.5%, in bombers, the brewer describes it as "a sublime hybrid of an American style IPA and a winter warmer," and it's damn good); and SAMUEL SMITH'S WINTER WELCOME ALE (a sweet, classic winter warmer). And put ST. BERNADUS CHRISTMAS ALE at the top of your list. The most seasonal aspect of the beer is its festive label, with the jolly namesake saint sporting a red hat in a snowy tableau. But the Belgian Strong Dark Ale (10% ABV) is a superb sipper — malty and fruity and spicy and frothy (pour carefully; the head is volcanic). And what better day to enjoy a beer with the motto "Heavenly Nectar Within Reach"?
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