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Merry Christmas from Hop Notes

Who says Santa only enjoys cookies and milk? I know he would enjoy a good stout to warm him up on his Christmas journey this year.

What will I be enjoying over this holiday season?  Mostly stouts, sour ales, barrel-aged beers and a few IPAs thrown in.  Here is a short list; some are available locally, some have been acquired from farther away.

Shorts Brewing in Michigan is one of my favorite breweries.  They do not distribute their beer outside of Michigan, but it’s a short drive to the north to find it.  Juicy Tree (7.5 percent ABV, IBUs 65) is their holiday brew and this is what they say about it:

Juicy Tree is an experimental India Pale Ale made with blue spruce tips, juniper berries, and cranberries. Big aromatics of piney evergreen and sweet berries tingle the senses. After some slightly tart and tangy flavors up front, a harmonious balance between pleasant fruit sweetness and bitter pine is reached. A sizable malt bill, ample hop additions, and the floral qualities of American Ale yeast, all contribute to symmetry of this beer.

Thanks to a friend who visited the brewery recently, I also have a couple of bottles of Space Rock (American pale ale, 5 percent ABV, IBUs 70).  Shorts also recently released Aphasia Old Ale (8 percent ABV). This is the first and last release branded under this name; however, the beer will most likely be re-branded in the future with a new name and new artwork.

One of my huge wants that I’ve been tracking down for several years finally landed in my cellar thanks to another friend.  Midnight Sun Brewing Berserker Imperial Stout (12.7 percent ABV, IBUs 30) is distributed in only New York and a few West Coast states, so I am very happy to have one.  It is brewed with maple syrup and molasses and aged in oak bourbon barrels.

Just to the east of us, there is an Ohio brewery that has gained quite a reputation for barrel-aged beers. This past week I opened a bottle of Jackie O’s Sherry Barrel Oil of Aphrodite (barrel-aged imperial stout, 10 percent ABV). They brew lots of one off beers and this is one of them.  I got another really incredibly special Jackie O’s bottle from my friend in Cleveland.  Mahogany Lush is a sour brown ale aged in oak barrels with cherries and raspberries.  The label specifies that this is “staff only from 2013” and with my love of sour beers, this will be a treat.

Recently, Prairie Artisan Ales from Krebs Brewing, Krebs, Okla., have made their way to Michiana.  Prairie Bomb (imperial stout, 13 percent ABV, IBUs 65) has made a few appearances, and I hope some of the others in this series also will arrive at some point.  I did enjoy a Wine Barrel Noir (imperial Stout Aged in Wine Barrels, 11 percent ABV, IBUs 60) with Jesse Sensenig of Goshen Brewing Co., and I have a bottle of Pirate Bomb (Imperial stout aged in rum barrels with coffee, cacao nibs, vanilla beans & chilies added, 13 percent ABV, IBUs 65) that I’m saving for Christmas Eve.  Also, just in at Chalet in very limited amounts, Prairie Christmas Bomb (imperial stout brewed with spices, 11.5 percent ABV)

Just in time for the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Grateful Dead, Dogfish Head has released its American Beauty (imperial pale ale, 9 percent ABV) for the second time.  I loved it the first time and looking forward to it for the second time.

Other beers on my holiday list include:

Whatever you are enjoying this holiday season, I wish you a safe and merry holiday!

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