In keeping with our holiday theme this week, we thought it would be good to offer up a primer about the holiday brews offered up by your various local breweries. There's a lot of them. Brace yourselves. These will be on draft and bottle lists for just a short time before they scamper off only to return 11 months from now. Get them while they're hot. Here are your holiday suspects.
Brewery: DC Brau
Description from the Source: Coming this holiday season is not only our first "holiday ale," but also our first collaboration with Randy Kuczor from Whole Foods Market on P St. We think it's only fitting to call our gift to the city "Exaltation." The brew itself is going to be a high-gravity Belgian-style Christmas ale, and it is being brewed with cocoa nibs, cherries, whole cinnamon sticks, gingerbread, ginger and black rye. This brew will definitely keep Jack Frost from nipping at your nose as you sip it by the fire. Release is TBD, but "Celebrations are in order.” – Brandon Skall
Brewery: Lost Rhino
Beer: Santa’s Package Spiced Rye Brown Ale
Vital Statistics: 5.5% / 26 IBU / 17 SRM
Description from the Source: A sweet Belgian-style ale spiced with coriander, cardamom, and star anise. Santa's Package is the creation of Lost Rhino brewer Mike Benish. Mike enjoyed the Rye Wit we brewed last year and thought that a darker sweeter version of it would be perfect for the holidays. Using the Trappist yeast that Jasper brought in, we brewed a single batch of this rye brown ale spiced with cardamom, coriander, and star anise. – Favio Garcia
Beer: Woody Stout Export Stout Aged in Bourbon Barrels
Vital Statistics: 6.8% / 30 IBU
Description from the Source: Our popular winter seasonal is back! Roasted malts and herbal hops provide an aroma of coffee and spicy chocolate. The stout is aged in bourbon oak barrels, which adds notes of caramel and vanilla to the nose. The bourbon barrels were supplied by Jim Beam and Heaven Hill. – Favio Garcia
Brewery: The Brewer's Art
Beer: St. Festivus Ale
Vital Statistics: 8%
Description from the Source: Dark Brown Winter Warmer with Curaçao Orange Peel and Ginger. Inspired by Seinfeld (we first made this beer in 1997 and it is a testament to the folly of giving your beer a pop culture name.) We currently have two vintages available in bottles – we had retained some of the 2012 (whose label is undated) to enable side-by-sides with the 2013 (which is vintage dated on the label). It's a remarkable contrast – the beer is great fresh but at a year the flavors have melded wonderfully. To me, the beer evokes winter. It really warms the bones without being too over-the-top strong or spiced. – Volker Stewart
Vital Statistics: 7.4% / 30 IBU / Malts: Cara Brown, Cara Rye, C-80, Chocolate, Roasted Barley, Torrified Wheat / Hops: Northern Brewer, Willamette, Tettnang
Vital Statistics: 6% / 30 IBU / Hops: Northern Brewe / Malts: Marris Otter, Chocolate, Bon Munich, Black, Carapils
Description from the Source: Released last week at GBD, the 2013 Brewhouse Rarity beer "Cinnamon Porter" is draft only in the market, but you can buy 750's from the brewery. Like all our beers with additional flavors (pineapple, apple, Vidal Blanc grapes, green tea, blood orange caraway seeds and so on) it is a beer first, and then the hints of the extra ingredients come in. The perfect accompaniment to conspiring and dreaming by the fire, Cinnamon Porter begins with dark chocolate, roast, and bready malt sweetness. The cinnamon notes are subtle, but intensify with each sip. – Tommy Hunter
Vital Statistics: 7.3%
Description from the Source: Aged for two months on a Woodford Reserve bourbon barrel, the barrel's flavors are meant to enhance, not overshadow the lager's flavors. Soft vanilla and charred oak compliment the rich caramel and toasted malt profile of this deceptively smooth doppelbock. A perfect winter warmer for the holiday season. Try the Winterbock next to oak-aged version to compare the flavors. – Travis Tedrow
Vital Statistics: 7.8% ABV
Description from the Source: Tidings Ale is a strong Belgian-style blonde ale and is brewed with local Maryland wildflower honey and Virginia wheat. These special ingredients store away the flavor and essence of the summer, and later warm us during the cold winter months. It's gently spiced with coriander, cardamom, fresh ginger and grains of paradise. This strong holiday ale is meant for sipping and sharing with friends and family. We hope this limited production beer brings tidings of cheer to you and yours during the holiday season.
Tasting Notes: Incredibly spicy aroma of cardamom and coriander, to a lesser extent subtle notes from the Belgian yeast of clove. Taste is dominated by an incredibly crisp carbonation, with earthy spices, pepper, ginger, and a hint of honey. Finishes very dry with a nice warming alcohol note. – Jason Camsky
Beer: La Saison Des Fêtes
Vital Statistics: 7.1%
Description from the Source: This is a beer to celebrate. Our winter saison balances spicy French hops, aromatic European malts, and a unique Belgian yeast. Welcome to the farmhouse. Settle in, warm your firkles by the fire, and drink in the festive season. We were looking to follow up our first three ales of diverse American influence with a strong yeast-forward offering that displayed our love of Belgian beer. We took a different approach to the saison with a deeper color, more complex malt profile, and more warming alcohol properties. Our aim was to create a slightly different winter ale that might add a little variety through the colder months for our followers in the District. This beer is perfect for the holidays because the spice, from the combination of yeast and hops we selected, pairs so well with so many delicious festive foods. There is just enough booze to keep you warm, but the body it is light enough to really flow well during the party season! We hope you dig it. – Will Durgin
Beer: Winter Madness
Vital Statistics: 10.6% / Malts: Vienna, 2 Row, Rolled Oats, Crystal, Special Roast, Biscuit, & Chocolate Malt / Hops: Centennial and Cascade
Flavor Profile: Lots of dried fruit in the nose, hints of dates and raisins, sweet malt profile with traces of underlying booze, lingering notes of fruit and spice, smooth finish.
Food Pairing: Shopping, Family Dinners, Mass Holiday Greeting Texts, Travel, Airports, Caroling, House Cleaning, Tree Trimming, Shoveling, etc.