The Twelve Beers of Christmas
Posted: December 21, 2012
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Samuel Adams' Stony Brook Red (9 percent a.b.v, $9.99 for 750 ml)
In the world of wine, brettanomyces yeasts and lactobacillus are considered undesirable, but in the hands of a skilled brewmaster, magic can happen. Inspired by the tartness of Belgian Reds and Flemish Oud Bruin, the folks at Sam Adams began with a unique "starter" ale of sorts called Kosmic Mother Funk (KMF), then added brett and lactobacillus to create a liquid that was then aged in Hungarian oak tuns, before emerging as Stony Red. It is one of four barrel-aged beers that make up the brewery's Barrel Room Collection, which all feature KMF in their respective blends.
Stony Brook is by far the most sour of the four Barrel Room creations, and since it's been bottle-conditioned like the other three, it's a great candidate for aging.
APPEARANCE: Pours a ruddy, reddish brown with a nice beige head that sticks to the glass and remains throughout the life of the beer.
NOSE: Strong sour fruit smell, with a touch of esters, earth and meat that culminate into a note that is reminiscent of a McDonald's chicken nugget (no joke).
PALATE: Tart flavors, particularly sour apple, hit the tongue and then at midpalate, a delicate earthy-oak flavor emerges until the sour and floral finish. The liquid is lively throughout.
CIGAR: Romeo y Julieta Petit Churchill (91 points) The saltiness of the cigar adds wonderful balance to the tart juice, and it brings out more of the oak quality of the beer.
Shmaltz's He'Brew Jewbelation Sweet 16 (16 percent a.b.v, $10 for a 750 ml bottle)
You didn't think I overlooked Chanakuh, did you? Shmaltz Brewing, a proudly Judaic-inspired brewery started in San Francisco, used 16 different hops and 16 different malts in this high-alcohol brew, which is the eighth expression in Shmaltz Brewing's acclaimed Jewbelation series. This barrel-aged, limited-edition brew's high a.b.v. and flavor profile make it a great one to cellar.
APPEARANCE: Pours nearly pitch black with almost no head, save for a thin layer of dark tan foam that sticks nicely to the glass.
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