Gift idea alert!
We recently sought out the knowledge of local beer guru (and CPA by day), Patrick Lunn, for what he thinks would make a great do-it-yourself six pack gift. Over dinner at the now-closed pop up Phuc Yea! we narrowed it down to six options that are sure to make any beer lover happy.
Here's the ideal holiday six-pack:
Avery Old Jubilation
Avery Brewing Co. (Boulder, Colorado)
Slightly smokey toffee, caramel and butter (like Werther's Original), a little earthy hop, but mostly like dulce de leche. The taste, however, is more an off-dry caramel up front followed by a suggestion of hazelnut and coffee. Bitter bite to finish. 8.3% doesn't expose itself too much in the taste, but if you feel it trust it's working. Good with a smoked ham.
Huyghe Brewery (Melle, Belgium)
Banana and rum, some grape, a slight smoked meat maybe? Lunn says it's a complicated beer - where some sips are good, others are cringe-worthy, but mostly good. Slightly over-carbonated, different and strong but definitely interesting. But don't let these things deter you. Try it.
Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. (Chico, California)
Cascade hops to the nose (a lot of them, actually), grapefruit and a touch of Pine-Sol (don't worry though, it gets better). Patrick describes this brew as a bite out of a Christmas tree if you ever took one. Great hop character, but not for everyone. Be adventurous.
Anchor Our Special Ale (2011)
Anchor Brewing Co. (San Francisco)
The best part about this brew is that the recipe changes every year. Always vintage-dated, the Our Special Ales have a reputation for aging well. Cola-colored with gingerbread on the nose. Plenty wintergreen spices... Christmas tree bark... but in a good way.
Samuel Adams Old Fezziwig Ale
Samuel Adams Brewery (Boston)
A little like a milk chocolate bar with a hint of nuttiness. One of the few winter warmers that isn't overpowered by nutmeg. Typical "Christmas" spices play a nutty malt nicely. Slight alcohol on the finish with a hint of star anise. No over-carbonation and a balanced creaminess.
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Cigar City Winter Warmer
Cigar City Brewing (Tampa)
Figured we'd throw in a local for good measure. This one's obviously a Floridian's take on a winter ale. Heavy, malty caramel, sweet licorice and plum -- note the 11% alcohol (if you don't note it you'll feel it). Its complex and varied hop bill offers a bitter and dry counterpoint to the sweet malts.