Archive for the ‘Winter Brews’ Category

Merry Christmas to me!

Posted: December 29, 2010 in Flavor Series, IPA, Winter Brews

This Christmas I got something I look forward to every year, a variety pack.   I was given this year a Magic Hat’s winter variety pack by my brother and Sister in law (thanks guys)!  This 12 Pack includes 4 very top notch beers.  They are; #9, the staple of Magi Hat; Encore, a winter IPA; Howl, their seasonal brew; and current Odd Notion, winter 10.  I am going to review each one in the following post.


#9  A crazy concoction, that is sweet, hoppy, malty and dry all at the same time.  This beer has become so popular because it’s so complex, and flavorful.  Magic Hat themselves are not quite sure how to classify it, so they call it not quite a Pale Ale, which I feel is rather accurate.  This beer has some serious fruity flavors, it used to be my favorite but I am quickly noticing that a few gives me a stomach ache, it’s a great beer to have one or two of but I can’t drink them all night on the town.  It has right around 20 IBU’s so it’s not bitter enough to be classified as a pale ale but you wil get a slight but distinct hop bite at the end.  At 5.1%ABV I wish it wasn’t so sweet as it would be a great all around beer to drink anytime.


Encore, This beer, brings Maltsters and Hop heads together for the holidays.   With aroma’s of Great fruits which remind me of Christmas (I don’t know why), and soft undertones of warm malts, I knew this would be a great beer.  After the first sip I was hooked.  Great malty flavors up front, sweet like honey at first blending in to an intricate dry hoppy finale that will leave you wanting more.  This beer only gets tastier the further down it you get.  Maybe it was the few beers before I had before, but I am not a big IPA fan, and this beer had me hooked, I wanted to keep drinking them but a get rowdy after a few IPA’


Howl, definitely a decent winter time beer, classified as a black lager, and that’s what it is, if they were trying to steer down the path of traditional black lagers they nailed it.  I only pose that somewhat negatively because I know that isn’t Magic Hat’s style and I know they could have done more with it.  Anyhow, this brew has some great malty, buttery biscuit flavor, sure to keep you warm on even the coldest winter nights.   It finishes almost exactly as it started, don’t get me wrong its got flavor its just not the complex beer I have come to know and love from Magic Hat.  If you have never had a Magic Hat before and you picked this one up you would call me a liar, but try some others as well and you will see where I am coming from.  This beer has 4.6% ABV and right around 20 IBUS.


Odd Notion, Winter ’10.  I feel these are the beers that really set Magic Hat apart from other Breweries.  Like Dog Fish Head the President, and the Brew Master do crazy flavors in beers, and release a new one each season.   This winter is Fantastic, classified as a Red Ale it has the flavor and the know how to be a red ale, but here is the twist.  They brewed it with Hibiscus Leaves.  Wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about this one but it’s pretty damn good.  The Hibiscus adds such a different flavor to the beer especially to a Red Ale that is really not like anything I have ever tasted before, and I have tasted lots.  The earthy smell of this beer sacred me a little at first, but there was so little hoppy bitterness that I forgot all about the aroma after the first taste.  Needless to say this was my favorite beer in the variety pack and I can’t wait to get my hands on some more.  Maybe someone locally with get it on tap and really make my holiday season.




Busy Holidays for Hops@Home!

Posted: December 27, 2010 in Breweries, Winter Brews

Well the holidays were very busy for us here at Hops@Home and I do apologize for the lack of blogging.   But I have some great writing material now which I will share over the next few post of the delicious beers I got to enjoy, over the past few weeks.  Lest start with a great event I went to last week.  Me and a buddy hit up Blue Mountain Brewery for their Holiday Tuesday tasting.  While at work that day their Facebook page told me they were out of a few beers so I stopped in at at Beer Run before I headed out to pick them up, I am sure glad I did, they were awesome.  Anyhow as a result of them being out of a few crafts that they didn’t make they advertised it as a beer potluck (bring your own favorite holiday beer to share).  This made for a very interesting tasting evening.   Anyhow the event was packed probably 50 or so people and we had a blast, I highly suggest getting out there any Tuesday for a tasting event.  Anyhow here a few highlights from the night. These are in no particular order, and I apologize for the bad pictures IPhone in bad light.

Wassail, Full Sail Brewing Company, Oregon.  This beer is the beer that brings beer lovers together for the holidays! Brewed with four types of malt, and fresh West Coast hops, it has  great roasty malt Aroma’s, as well as as warm and toasty malt flavor up front, that blends nicely to a dry hoppy finish.  This is a beer I enjoyed not being much of a hop head, and the hop heads in the room also enjoyed not being much of Maltsters.    At 56 IBU’s I am really surprised I enjoyed it as much as I did.   ABV 7%




Scal Dis Noel, Brasserie Dubuisson Freres Sprl.  Be Careful with this little firecracker.  This Belgium Strong Dark Ale, pours from the bottle a dark red wine color, with a thick foamy Brown Head on it.  The Smell of Brown sugar and Carmel, makes you think this is going me to a sweet and malty brew.  I could smell some hints of alcohol in this one but not overpowering in the least.   The flavor of this beer is what threw me, very fruity up front, almost apricot, or dates.  with strong hints of Liquor in the middle, followed by an even fruitier finish, of melons, or berries perhaps.  As my palate grows i am finding less and less of an interest in fruity beers.   But if you enjoy a sweeter beer, this ones for you,  Just watch out, its a 12% ABV, so it will make you as merry (and rosy cheeked) as the Big guy up north.

Moving on,

Winter Welcome Ale, Samuel Smith Brewing UK.  This Beer pours a great copper color that shows that its going to be a nice winter warmer,  Even the tasting glass we got a nice thick head that lasted throughout the 2 oz taste , and left nice finger lacings on the glass when it was all over.  Great aromas of Mama’s home cooked biscuits on the initial pour with a very light hint of dry hoppiness  at the end.  The flavor doesn’t differ much other than with the biscuits up front you get a nice Carmel or honey flavor that adds perfectly.  The finish is a nice light spicy hop finish that leaves you mouth dry and your palate clean ready for whatever is next.  This is an outstanding beer.   And at only 6% ABV you can enjoy more than just one.

I  would like to thank Blue Mountain Brewery for these great tastings they put on every week, and would encourage all of our readers to get out there for one.  If you can’t make a Tuesday at least get out and try some of their fantastic beers, they are great people making great beer.


Brewing special seasonal beers predates modern history and has its origin in the pagan celebrations of winter solstice. Later, as monasteries often functioned as the local brewery, some monks made the first holiday commemorative beers to celebrate the birth of Christ. Winter beers are as much a state of mind as a style, but beers best for fending off the cold of a long winter night — such as old ales, strong ales, barley wines and strong lagers — are often associated with winter.

There are a ton of different styles of winter beer, its perhaps the most widely flavored seasonal brew with each brewer having the freedom to do what they chose. What classifies a winter beer? Well it’s dark, sometimes, and it tends to be thicker, but that’s really about it. The beer itself may be sweet, it may be bitter, it may be hoppy, or it may be malty, it can really go in a thousand different ways so the easiest way to talk to about them is to just cover a few of my favorites but I encourage you to try as many as you can, because they really are all so much different!

The Gift, Star Hill. This beer truly is a gift, and if someone gave me a six pack for Christmas, I would be perfectly happy! This beer is a lovely copper color, which pours from the bottle with little if any head. Some carbonation bubbles are seen lazily rising towards the surface but not many. This beer starts malty, but there are serious hints of apples, oranges and grapes, giving it some nice fruity undertones. You get a really nice toffee, almost caramel aftertaste that makes you crave another sip. This beer is not at all thick, it’s medium bodied, and almost a pilsner! The gift weighs in with 25 IBUS and 6.5%ABV

Hibernator, Long tail. This Unfiltered Scottish aAle winter masterpiece a dark Reddish, garnet color, when held up to the light you can tell this beer is unfiltered, as its more than a little cloudy. It has a light brown almost sandy colored head that doesn’t stick around long but does leave its mark with a little bit of lacing that will hold on all the way to the finish. It starts of with a very strong malty taste, almost like a buttery biscuit, which is very different. It ends with a just a little fruit, possibly citrus, tang, and just the slightest bite of hops. Take your time on this beer, its much for complex if you drink it slow and the savor the sips. The Hibernator weighs in with 25 IBUS, and 6.0%ABV