Winter Exchange Beer Selection: Shiner Winter Cheers

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I’m behind. Apparently I’m so well known for enjoying beer and booze that everyone decided to get me just that for Christmas. Not that I’m complaining – I have at least two cases of beer that are still waiting to be cracked open. I finally got to opening my winter exchange box and I’m starting to pick my favorites. Off to our first brew – the Shiner Winter Cheers. Shiner Winter Cheers is known as a class winter brew with powerful fruity notes. Here we go…cheers!

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Endless Beer: Imperial Oak’s Crank it Hop IPA

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I’ve been so busy drinking beer over the Holidays. It’s been tough. As I mentioned, my favorite time of the year is beer trades and exchanges. From my beer trade with Chicago, I tried the “Crank it Hop” IPA from Imperial Oak Brewing Company. From a grolwer, the suds still had great carbonation and I was able to complete the hard job of tasting 32 ounces of beer. Enough already…here are the notes.

ABV: 6%

Tasting Notes

Appearance: Transparent gold with white head

Aroma: Bitter and hoppy aroma with sweet citrus

Taste: Very sweet matly and caramel flavor in the front end. Follows with slight citrus flavors of orange and grapefruit and ends with strong hop finish.

Mouthfeel: Surprisingly smooth finish and buttery mouthfeel throughout.

Overall: Very well balanced IPA. It is a sweeter IPA than you typically expect when you think of the style, but the sweetness is pleasant. Smooth drink that was easy to finish even 32 ounces of.

ES Rating: 4.5/5 Suds

Endless Pairings

Cheese: Sweet fig goat cheese with toasted salty almonds and dried cranberries

Appetizer: Candied bacon!

Entree: Grilled barbecue chicken with sauteed green beans and sweet potato puree

Dessert: Caramel Cheesecake

Cigar: Alec Bradley American Sun Grown

 

 

Endless Beer: 2016 Anchor Christmas Ale

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Anchor Brewing Company continues their 42 year-old tradition every Christmas season by releasing their seasonal Christmas ale. While the name does not change, the recipe and illustration does. The recipe is kept secret, so maybe their fooling all of us, but from what I can tell, there is a change in recipes throughout the years. I’ve been saving one every year for the past four years. Next year, I’ll taste each year and let you know. Until then…

ABV: 6.5%

Tasting Notes

Appearance: Black in color, but is not opaque. When held up to the light, you can barely see through it. Head is tan.

Aroma: Sweet smells of maple, fig, and cherry in addition to the scents of bread.

Taste: SWEET. Tastes of maple and roasted malts come first, followed by a chocolate flavor. Fruity flavor of years past is there, but not as strong. Winter spices are very subtle in this one – clove, nutmeg and cinnamon.

Mouthfeel: Creamy and smooth throughout – goes down easy.

Overall: Bought a case for my exchange, then bought a 12 pack for myself. This is a great dessert beer without going too heavy. This year’s is very balanced and has a great flavor that does remind you of Christmas.

Endless Rating: 4.3333/5 Candy Canes

Endless Pairings:

Cheese: Fig goat cheese with rusted nuts, dried fruit, and crustini

Appetizer: Roasted Garlic Chicken Satay

Entree: Roasted pork loin over apples and sweet potatoes with sauteed broccolini

Dessert: Chocolate pear panettone

Cigar: Nat Sherman Timeless Dominican

Endless Beer: 2016 Bourbon County Stout

Endless Beer: 2016 Bourbon County Stout

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Ahh yes, the most wonderful time of the year. My Black Friday shopping tradition became not one of waiting in endless lines but going to pick up my favorite holiday stout. Goose Island annually releases their Bourbon County Stout on Black Friday. Few distributors are provided with a limited supply and the beer snobs rush to get their stash. This is my third year of commitment to the stout and I now have a nice collection in my cellar to one day do a tasting across five years. Goose Island suggests that the brew can be aged up to five years, so why not?

On to the tasting!

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Endless Beer: Top 10 Winter Beers

Our annual winter beer list is here. It’s taken a lot of taste testing to narrow it down. We’ve looked far and wide in search of the delicious suds that make us feel merry and bright. We’re looking for beers with high(er) ABVs, winter warmers, holiday spices, and the overall sense of “I have to save this one for a special occasion.” Enough talk. In no particular order, here it is…

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10. Goose Island Bourbon County Stout

Every year, Goose Island releases this gem at a very limited capacity. Some even say it is one of the rarest beers in the world. Anyway, typically weighing in on an ABV over 10%, Goose island does a good job of balancing out winter flavors into one tasty sip (or swig).

9. Troegs Mad Elf

This brew is also hard to get. However it is worth the hunt. We’ve featured it before, but it never gets old no matterhow many times you’ve had it. This is the essence of a winter warmer.

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8. Black Raven Festivus Ale

Get the Festivus Pole out and crack one of these open. Start drinking and let the insults fly!

7. Wingman Brewers Noel

This year, this one was one of my favorites. A great belgian ale that also has some of the Christmas spices we all know and love.

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Endless Simmer Beer Trade

Beer Trade: Try Something New

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Whoever said “let’s make America great again” doesn’t know about the American ingenuity of craft beer drinkers. One of the best things about craft beer is that we all love to share. We’ve mentioned the great beer exchange, but let us not forget about beer trades. Typically between two people, a beer trade will consist of a set of parameters and a deadline for each person to meet and ship out a selection of beers. Beer trades allow us beautiful beer people to not only partake in a diverse amount of beers that we may not otherwise purchase, but to also try beers that are well outside of your geographic bounds.

One of my co-workers would bring up which beers his brother sent him from California in exchange for some local beers from the Northeast. He would brag about the most recent batch of Pliny or a small microbrewery in San Diego. Finally, it hit me: my wife has a cousin in Seattle. After a few texts, we set up a trade of our own from PA to Seattle and back. Success.

Of course, I am not the founder of the beer trade. This has surely been going since the dawning of craft beer. When visiting in Tampa, I was given business cards of fellow beer lovers to arrange a trade. They went on about how they are a member of a network that posts the beers in their cellar and then offers are made. I’m sure there are a bunch of networks out there (in addition to just arranging through personal relationships), but what appears to be a more exclusive network is The Beer Exchange.

At the Beer Exchange, you are required to create an account before even perusing through the options. First things first, provide your cellar, or inventory. From there, you can post what you have for trade, what you want and what is not for trade (your means of bragging about beer to people who care). For those fantasy football fans – think of this as your waiver wire. Finally, you can manage who your friends are and provide feedback through star ratings as well as providing actual reviews. This is a social network for beer people. WIN.

Even reddit has a beer trade thread. Obviously since it is on reddit, it’s a big deal. I will be trying my hand at the online beer exchange, however I personally think the easiest way to go is to trade with your personal friends. Find a friend in a far away land and pony up the bill to trade some suds. Let’s make America great again…one beer at a time.

Endless Beer: Top 10 Beers of Winter

Happy New Year, folks. Time to pretend that you’ll hold to those healthy resolutions and become a “better you.” I’m right there with you, as the fiance and I try out “clean eating” for a while. Except for beers — I will NOT stop drinking beers. Which is why I bring you our top ten winter beers of the season. Note that even though Christmas is behind us, those tasty Christmas brews are still available as well as the special winter seasonals. Get ’em while you can. Here ya go:

10. Sly Fox Christmas Ale

ABV: 5.5% (canned), 6.5% (bottled)

A leader in the beer canning industry, Sly Fox offers their annual Christmas ale. The ale is a very “spiced forward” brew with Cinnamon and Ginger at the forefront. Flavors of clove continue throughout, complementing a sweet malty flavor.

9. Victory Winter Cheers

ABV: 6.7%

For those of you that don’t enjoy a winter warmer or strongly spiced ale, the Winter Cheers is a tasty and sweet wheat that takes away some of the booze flavor associated with winter warmers.

Jubelale

8. Deschutes Brewery Jubelale

ABV: 6.7%

Jubelale includes the traditional Christmas spices, but then has a pleasant sweetness of caramel and toffee with fruity flavors of cherry and raisin. The award-winning brew is a solid warmer that gives you a nice warm feeling all the way down. A great brew for after a hard day’s work on the slopes.

 

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