DC Beer
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DMV Winter and Holiday Seasonals Roundup

We find ourselves now firmly entrenched in the holiday season, and along with rampant consumerism, an inundation of holiday music, and the looming specter of holiday travel, there is also a bevy of winter/holiday beers that will be leaving brewhouses across the area. Holiday beers run the gamut of styles, but they tend to run heavier and maltier to fend off winter’s chill. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on your preferences), some area breweries are bucking that trend while others have stuck to it. Something for everyone! Below we check out the offerings we’ve heard about. This list will be updated as we hear about more beers, so check back often! Breweries: want to see your beer listed here? Send us an email at [email protected] so we have the details!

Port City Brewing Company – Tidings – 7.8% – Imperial Witbier
What They Say: “Tidings Ale is a strong and spicy Belgian style blond ale brewed with local Maryland wildflower honey and Virginia wheat. These special ingredients store away the flavor and essence of summer, and later warm us during the cold winter months. It is gently spiced with coriander, cardamom, fresh ginger and grains of paradise.”

Tidings is my personal favorite holiday beer, anywhere. I really look forward to the release each year. The sharpness of the ginger helps to keep this from becoming too cloying, and the ABV is just right. I want a little bit of a punch in my holiday beers (to keep me in good cheer), but this is low enough that I can also have a few without falling into the tree.

Hellbender Brewing Company – Grampus – Smoked Nut Brown – 6.2% 
“Grampus is an English style nut brown ale that borders on a porter. Apple and cherry wood smoked malts from Copper Fox distillery (VA) add a subtle smoky aroma that blends beautifully with the British pale chocolate and brown malts, Grampus starts sweet on the palate, but finishes clean and dry.”

3 Stars Brewing – Nectar of the Bogs – Cranberry Saison – 5.0%
What They Say: “Bright and crisp with a subtle earthy tartness from the fresh cranberries. Clean dry finish with a lively mouthfeel. Designed with the Fall & Winter Holidays in mind, this pairs perfectly with oven roasted turkey, hams, stuffing, and mashed potatoes. Also works great as a counterbalance to creamy and rich cheeses.”

Flying Dog Brewery

  • Sea Salt Caramel Brown – Brewhouse Rarities – 7.0% 
    What They Say: “The caramel sweetness isn’t cloying, so you could pair this with a not-too-sweet shortbread or cheesecake. Want to go savory? Try it with dry-rub BBQ or smoked brisket.”

  • K-9 Winter Warmer – 7.4% 
    What They Say: ”If it tastes like Christmas, it probably works with K-9. This year’s release was brewed with cardamom, vanilla, and chocolate, so try it with buttery cheeses, sweet breads and hearty stews.”

  • Naughty Egg Nog Ale – 8.4% 
    What They Say: “With subtle sweetness and a palate full of holiday spice and bourbon, this beer can stand alone as your dessert course all season long.”

  • Nice – Holiday Milk Stout – 7.3%
    What They Say: “Slight sweetness from the lactose follows behind a rich chocolate malt profile. Give this nicety a whirl with creamy cheeses like brie and camembert or with dark chocolate desserts.”

  • The Flying Dog Holiday Collection. This holiday variety pack features four beers designed to pair with a specific cookie from the legendary Otterbein’s Bakery in Baltimore. This “for Marylanders, by Marylanders” pack is only available in our local markets. The four beers include:
    • Raspberry Leaf Ale – 6.5%: “Bright and fruity raspberry meets notes of steeped tea, making this a perfect pairing with Otterbein’s Lemon Sugar Cookies. Oats, honey.”
    • Horchata Lager – 6.8%: “Cinnamon and vanilla dominate with a sweet, yet clean, finish making this a perfect pairing with Otterbein’s Sugar Cookies.”
    • Christmas IPA – 7.6%: “Resinous and citrus hop character meets bright spruce, making this a perfect pairing for Otterbein’s Orange White Chocolate Chip Cookies.”
    • Baltic Porter – 8.4%: “Complex notes of fig, dark chocolate and subtle smoke make this the perfect pairing for Otterbein’s Chocolate Chip Cookies.”

Atlas Brew Works

  • Saison des Fetes – 7.1% 
    What They Say: “This is a beer to celebrate. Our winter Saison balances spicy French hops, aromatic European malt, and a unique Belgian yeast. Welcome to the farmhouse. Settle in, warm your firkles by the fire, and drink in the festive season.”

  • Saison des Brett – 7.1%
    What They Say: “To make Saison de Brett, we start with our La Saison des Fêtes that balances spicy French hops, aromatic European malt, and a unique Belgian yeast. Next we rack the beer into local red wine barrels, add a bit of wild Brettanomyces yeast, and age for 12 months. The result is a complex, funky beer that is amazing when released and will change in flavor if cellared properly.”

Mad Fox Brewing Company  

  • Oaked Wee Heavy 2016 – 9%: 
    What They Say: “A strong Scotch ale aged in Heaven Hill Bourbon barrels…a terrific blend of the Scottish brewing tradition and American spirits melded together. This very full-bodied, dark brew possesses a deep, rich malt character as a result of an extended kettle boil. This brew expresses hints of toffee, plums, currants that are all intensified with an oak smokiness. Lightly hopped as a Scots brewer would with the English varietal First Gold.”
  • Headcracker – English Style Barleywine – 9%:
    What They Say: “An English style golden barleywine brewed with English Pale and German pilsner malts to lend a light biscuit flavor on the palate. This brew is hopped with the English hop varietal First Gold, to lend just enough bitterness to balance the malt notes.”

DC Brau Brewing Company

  • The Stone of Arbroath – Scotch Ale – 8%
    What They Say: “Stone of Arbroath has a rich, sweet malty aroma with mellow notes of plum and brown sugar. The mouthfeel has a creamy softness with highlights of toffee and intense caramel that are derived from a lengthy 90 minute boil which encourages caramelizing of dense wort sugars. These complemented by a subtle roast character that finishes with a mild acridity that pleasantly coats one’s mouth. Coming in at a warming and subdued 8% ABV it will definitely ruffle many a kilt this spring.”

  • Alpha Domina Mellis, Part 4 – Double India Pale Ale – 8.5% 
    What They Say: “The season of Christmas beers is upon us, which means DC Brau returns with its winter warmer, the Alpha Domina Mellis. Now in its fourth year of brewing, the Double IPA includes gallons of wildflower honey from Burnside Farms in Haymarket, VA, and locally-grown Virginia barley that was malted by Pilot Malthouse in southern VA. This year’s hop varieties are a mix of new exciting strains from Oregon and New Zealand. 

    ADM Part 4 visually grabs the consumer’s attention with an attractive tight, lacey white head and a visually appealing orange-ish hue, which is realized by the addition of crystal malts to the malt bill. A generous 90 minute addition of hops lay the foundation for the punchy, lingering mellon-like bitterness that playfully tingles the palate after every sip, which only helps to perpetuate the intense hop flavor and presence. The honey helps boost alcohol content and adds a crisp, dry finish to the beer, which, like the malt, is only there to support the heavy, hoppy juiciness of this precious hop elixir. 

    Yeast: Chico Ale
    MALTS: Canadian 2-row,  Pilot Malthouse 2-row VA barley, C-60
    ADJUNCTS: Wild Flower Honey (Supplied by Burnside Farms in Haymarket, VA) and Brewers Crystals
    HOPS: Citra, Falconer’s Flight, Simcoe, Idaho #7, Mosaic, Experimental variety 05256, Wai-ti and Kohatu
    IBU: approximately 115”

Lost Rhino Brewing Company – Woody Stout – Bourbon Barrel-Aged Stout – 6.8%

What They Say: “A bourbon-barrel aged stout, this brew has a blend of spicy chocolate, vanilla, and the toasty aroma of coffee. Tasting Notes: A smokey aroma complements the balanced flavors of coffee, bourbon, vanilla, caramel, and dark chocolate

Malts: 2 Row, Munich, Crystal, Carapils, Chocolate, and Black
Hops:  Columbus
ABV: 6.8%
IBU: 30
SRM: 40”

Plenty of brews for the holidays! Any of these pique your particular interest? Let us know on Twitter!

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