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Rich flavors make seasonals shine

Sierra Nevada’s Celebration, Deschutes’ Jubelale and others take their places in a crowded field of seasonals to win over the hearts of beer lovers during the holidays. (Carolyn Lamberson)
Sierra Nevada’s Celebration, Deschutes’ Jubelale and others take their places in a crowded field of seasonals to win over the hearts of beer lovers during the holidays. (Carolyn Lamberson)

Holiday beers top local brewmasters’ wish lists

For some of us, beer is as big a part of the holidays as cookies and carols.

What better way to accompany tree trimming than Full Sail’s Wreck the Halls, or to welcome the weather than Pyramid’s Snow Cap (or, given our recent cold snap, Widmer’s Brrr)?

We asked area brewers about their favorite seasonals (other than their own). Some mentioned familiar standbys, like Sierra Nevada’s hop-forward Celebration, a must-have for No-Li brewmaster Mark Irvin and River City’s Gage Stromberg.

The Budge brothers typically share a six-pack of Deschutes’ malty, complex Jubelale. “It has really robust flavors,” Bruce Budge said. Added Brad Budge: “I like to try it every year and see the differences.”

Others cited somewhat more obscure offerings, like Jolly Roger from Seattle’s Maritime Pacific Brewing.

“It’s one of the first winter beers I ever had when I lived a mile or so from that brewery, and I just loved the dark coppery color,” said Twelve String’s Terry Hackler. “It has a real crisp hop profile without being overly bitter, and a little bit of biscuit and honey-type flavors.”

Look for it at Total Wine, Huckleberry’s, JB’s and other specialty bottle shops.

Brian Guthrie of Ramblin’ Road took a liking to Cabin Fever, from Bellingham’s Boundary Bay, when he lived in Seattle.

“I love the rich caramel and toffee notes,” he said. “It also has a superb body and mouth feel, and just the right level of warm alcohol finish for those cold nights.”

While Boundary Bay’s beers are rare over our way these days, bottles of Cabin Fever should be arriving shortly at Zag’z Liquor Store, 1101 N. Division St.

As for us, it wouldn’t be Christmas Eve without a bottle of Anchor’s spiced Our Special Ale – followed by a little Wild Turkey and ginger ale. After all, man does not make merry by beer alone.

Freshly tapped

• No-Li’s latest draft-only specialty is a brown porter (6.5 percent alcohol by volume, 20 International Bitterness Units) that’s fairly dry and lightly roasty, with plenty of caramel and toffee flavors.

• Twelve String will introduce its Volume 2 second anniversary ale at a release party Sunday from noon to 6 p.m., with an appetizer buffet and brewery tours. The strong Cascadian dark ale (around 9 percent ABV and 100 IBUs) is full of both white and midnight wheat malts.

Also arriving this week at the Spokane Valley brewery is the Twelve Strings of Winter (7.2, 77), a double dry-hopped winter warmer with hints of cinnamon and vanilla.

• This year’s malty Stack Frost winter warmer (7.3, 27) should be tapped any day now at the Steam Plant. In the meantime, the downtown Spokane restaurant/pub has been serving some of last year’s version.

• In Pullman, Paradise Creek is pouring its Stocking Stuffer, an imperial stout with cocoa and cherry notes.

• Mad Bomber in Hayden is readying three beers it hopes to have on by Christmas: a loosely Scottish-style ale, a big nitro stout and a rye IPA.

Fill ’er up

Looking to pick up some local beer for a holiday celebration? You can save a few bucks during the weekly discount growler days at area breweries. Among the offerings (prices are for 64-ounce fills; you’ll need to spend a little more if you don’t bring your own container):

• No-Li: $3 off on Sundays (regular prices $10-$18, depending on the beer).

• Iron Goat: Tuesdays, $10 for all fills.

• River City: Tuesdays, $10 for all fills.

• Twelve String: Tuesdays, $10 growlers of three selected beers.

• Budge Brothers: Wednesdays, selected beer for $5.

• Hopped Up: Wednesdays, selected beer for half-price (regular fills $12).

• Trickster’s: no discounts (regular fills $8).

• Steam Plant: no discounts (regular fills $10).

• Slate Creek: no discounts (regular fills $12).

• Mad Bomber: no discounts (regular fills $12).

And at Selkirk Abbey in Post Falls – where the glass in the front door was shattered by a runaway pickup in October – growler fills for all the standard Belgian-style beers are $11 until permanent repairs are made, which likely will be after the holidays.

Send beer news, comments and questions to senior correspondent Rick Bonino at boninobeer@comcast.net.


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