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Oct 31, 2014

Beer Break

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Beer Break Vol. 3, No. 5
Get your share of holiday beers

Oct. 31, 2002

Now that holiday beers have started to arrive at our favorite beer store, we are reminded that not all of us are lucky enough to live close to a quality beer bar that puts many of those beers on tap. Such good fortune makes it easy to sample this year's Pyramid Snow Cap or Geary's Hampshire Ale without buying a 6-pack.

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So how can the rest of us sample our fair share of holiday beers without ending up with a beer fridge full of stray bottles?

- Maximize your choices by getting to know the folks at your regular store. Perhaps they'll set back a 6-pack of the latest seasonal for you, so you don't have to worry about it selling out. Or you might be able to tell them about beers they didn't realize they could stock. For instance, if the store carries three or four brands from Anderson Valley (in California) ask if Winter Solstice available.

- Now that they know you at the local store, suggest they sell singles. They may already do that for particularly popular beers, but not have thought about doing it for the holiday offerings.

- Set up a beer-buying co-op. Get one or more friends to join your "holiday 6-pack club." Basically, they agree to buy a percentage of each 6-pack (or case). You probably won't end up dividing all the beer evenly (the logistics of creating a large co-op can be maddening, but in the end everybody is more likely to end up with beers they want). Some members of your group may want more BridgePort Ebenezer Ale, others more Great Divide Hibernation.

- Think ahead. Chances are you'll be going places in the next few months where it will be appropriate to take beer, be it an office party or a family gathering. You'll be considered special if you show up with a mixed 6-pack of holiday beers. But they don't have to be only holiday beers. Some breweries put together samplers that include both holiday beers and year-round products. You might want to try Old Fezziwig from Sam Adams and not know what to do with the other beers in the sample pack -- take them to a party. Same with the Michelob Specialty Sampler Collection -- it contains two beers (Michelob Maerzen and Michelob Seasonal All-Malt) that are only available in the sampler. You might want to see what they taste like but know you'd never drink the Honey Lager. Trust us, the Honey Lager will be well received at almost any party.

Excuse us now. We just heard that Sierra Nevada Celebration has arrived at our local store. That's one 6-pack we won't be dividing up ...

More on a 'Yard of ale'

Reader Fred Schneider offers us a little more insight on the origins of "yard of ale" that we discussed last week:

"I have a set of stagecoach glasses for the passengers. They have an oval bottom and a slim neck. The neck goes in a holder, which keeps them from rolling or falling over. These were filled with brandy.

"The driver got a yard of beer and the passengers got a few ounces of brandy."

Thanks, Fred.

Tasting notes

CAPSTONE ESB
Brewed by Oasis Brewery in Colorado Michael Jackson's tasting notes:
ESB is a British term, a brand-name registered by Fuller's brewery, a mile from my home in London. Fuller's ESB is a beautifully balanced beer. So is Oasis, but much bigger and more assertive: earthy, leafy, garden-mint hop aroma; big malt background; slightly chewy, then grain, then salty. Becoming leafy. Long, lingering hoppy dryness. To be followed by Rocky Mountain oysters.

RED BRICK ALE
Brewed by Atlanta Brewing Co. in Georgia
Roger Protz writes:
A red-brown beer with a heavy barey-white head. It has a tempting rich aroma of chocolate and cocoa backed by floral hops. Hops come bursting through on the tongue but they are balanced by dark malts that add an almost astringent note. The finish is dominated by roasty malt, chocolate, hedgerow fruits and bitter hops. It may be inspired by English mild, but has far greater hop character. Great companion for pizza.

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