Over the weekend I went to my favorite bar, Fischman’s Liquors and Tavern for their First Annual Holiday Beer Event,
Fisch-Mas: Christmas at the Fisch. For 30 bucks, you got unlimited tastings of 12 Christmas/Winter brews. The original plan had the event under heated tents in the parking lot in the back. However, the ridiculous amount of rain that day forced the main event next store, where they will be expanding in the upcoming months.
Samichlaus 2011: They called this the world’s strongest lager, and not because it beats the other lagers in world’s strongest lager competitions. Brewed once a year on St. Nick’s day, then aged for 10 months before bottling. It possibly is the rarest beer in the world. It was certainly once of the sweetest beers I have ever had, bordering on cloying. It is not something you could drink all night long. The color was also pretty light for a dopplebock, more like a dopplemaibock.
St. Bernardus Christmas Ale: One of 4 Belgian Strong Dark Ale’s in the tasting lineup and without a doubt the best one. Probably because it is a little more reserved than the other three. Strange as that might sound. It has an alcohol bitterness (yes alcohol bitterness) that nicely balances out the sweetness of the beer.
Great Lakes Christmas: This was one of the best. One of two truly American styles of Christmas Ale in the group. A malt forward base beer, mixed with the cinnamon and ginger one associates with Christmas.
Port Brewings Santa’s Little Helper: This is one of the two Imperial Stouts showcased. It is very much what you would expect from a fine Imperial Stout, lots of roasted malts, chocolate, and molasses flavors, with some Christmas Cheer in the form of Christmas spices.
Delirium Noel: Brought to you by the same people who gave you the pink elephant glass. This is the second Belgian Strong Dark, and I was warned that is wasn’t the best of them by the bar tender a few weeks before. A dark amber color with chunks of stuff settled in the bottle. I didn’t get any chunks, but it was on draft, so that was probably the reason. I thought it was tasty anyway.
Anchor Stream Christmas: I wasn’t a big fan of this beer. I’m not sure exactly why. The recipe for this beer changes every year, so you can’t really be sure what you are going to get. Maybe another year would have suited me better.
St. Feuillien Speciale: The 3rd Belgian Strong Dark. This is what I tend to think of when I think traditional Beglian Strong Dark. A dubbel on steroids. Got a little bit of hot fusels, tons of dark fruit character, and a little barnyard. I couldn’t tell much of a difference between this one and the 4th Belgian Strong dark, but of course, by now I was far into this list of high alcohol beers.
Old Jubilation: An old Ale. I always think of Old Ales as smaller more approachable Barleywines. Not as intense, not as rich, not as fruity, not as much warming alcohol, but in that direction and very tasty nontheless. It was a nice break from the 4 Belgian Strong Darks we had.
Three Floyd’s Alpha Klaus: The second truly American Christmas Beer. Starting with a quality porter base beer. It was big, it was hoppy, and the more I think of it the more I want some again.
Scaldis Noel: The last Belgian Strong Dark, and by the then I was sick of them, See my description of the Special above if you want to know what this was like.
Goose Island Baudoinia: Fed by the fumes given off by the incomparable Bourban County Stout, Baudionia mold can be spotted on the barrels stored on the lowest shelves in the warehouse. The similarity named beer has all the flavors one would expect from its famous cousin but with much more prominent chocolate note and a deeper smoother body. Or so the pamplet says. How did the mold beer taste to me? Like Chocolate Whiskey. This isn’t a beer you gulp. It is a beer you sip in small snifter glasses like the billionaires of old (or of Sunday night cartoons).
Vandermill BA Cider: Fermented with Michigan Honey and aged for 8 months in Founder’s Backwoods Bastard Ale. Coincidentally, I just had Backwoods Bastard the last time I was at the Fisch. It is a Scottish Wee Heavy and is bloody intense. You get a bit of that in the cider. It is one of the best Cider’s that I have ever had.
With so many beers, I tried to go in some sort of order of color and alcohol levels, so that I wouldn’t blow out my palate right away. The problem is that there were so many big, dark beers, it didn’t make any difference. You just had to sit back, get some good food from the Wagyu Wagon and enjoy some delicious holiday beer. Cheers!