be festive. drink Festivale.

24 Jan

Just because the holidays are over, I don’t feel I need to stop being festive. Do you? I mean, we spend all this time building up to the holidays and then BAM! They’re over before you’ve even had time to enjoy them. You were too busy baking that tenth batch of cookies, knitting or crafting the last of your gifts, and trying to survive that horrid shopping abyss – dodging the masses of cranky, stressed, and exhausted people trying to keep your sanity before you punch someone in the throat. In the days leading up to Christmas, you have probably forgotten to indulge in relaxation.

At least that’s how I feel, so the last thing I want to do come new years day is get back on my feet, take down those lights, remove all the Christmas tree decorations, and say goodbye to that nice, natural pine smell in my house. I want more nog, more cookies, more holiday beer, and more college football. So, this year, I let the holidays linger. I waited until this past weekend to finally take down my tree (don’t judge), I bought a couple extra six packs of Terminal Gravity’s Festivale, and I spent a couple lazy Saturday’s watching college hoops and the road to the Superbowl.

I won’t lie, Festivale wasn’t my first choice – at first.

One of my favorite holiday beers of all time is Lagunitas’ Brown Shugga. I think I discovered it about four years ago, and every year since, I have picked up multiple six packs to comfort me on rainy winter nights, de-stress the holidays, accompany my Christmas goodies, and raise a toast with friends. Again, I waited almost a whole year for the return of Brown Shugga, but this year, I was left waiting. The brewery had some legitimate reasons for not making it this year (whatever. lame…I say due to the sting of rejection), and they even had a little bit of humor for their die hard Brown Shugga fans, offering instead a holiday beer named Lagunitas Sucks Holiday Ale. Now I’m just pissed they got to say it first.

With just a tinge of resentment, I popped the cap off my rebound beer (cue: Wham!’s Last Christmas, on the cassette player).

The Festivale is a bold winter ale. It hits you with sweet malt up front, followed by a strong, hop backbone that is accompanied by a warmness from the alcohol, clocking in at 8.4% ABV. This is definitely a full-bodied beer with a nice mouth feel that is neither too thin, nor overpowering or heavy as are some winter ales. The beer finishes somewhat dry, imparting a lightness or drinkability that encourages me to crack open a second bottle. It pours a beautiful reddish-brown, mahogany color, with a quickly dissipating cream colored head. The bitter hop and alcohol finish mellow as the beer warms, enhancing the brown sugar and molasses flavors. The Festivale is actually similar to the Brown Shugga, just a little less sweet and brown sugary and packing more bitter hops.

I’m a big fan of that little old brewery out in Enterprise, which was my rationale for choosing this as the Brown Shugga replacement. I don’t mean to applaud myself, because really, all the credit goes to head brewer Steve Carper and his crew, but…damn, I made a good choice. It turns out the Festivale isn’t just a way to fill the Brown Shugga void. (cue: When I Fall in Love by Nat King Cole) I’m really looking forward to resuming our love affair…umm, picking up a couple six-packs next December.

Food pairing: the Festivale holds up excellently with food given the complexity and balance between bold malts and hops. I enjoyed this beer with the ham sandwich at Olympic Provisions and it was outstanding. Just think about it: hot sweetheart ham, brie, bacon, pickles, honey mustard on brioche Kaiser with a slightly sweet, somewhat citrus, bitter hop beverage to wash it down….Actually, I recommend you get up and go over there. Now.To enjoy this perfect pairing while the ham sam is still on the menu. You’ll be glad you did.

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2 Responses to “be festive. drink Festivale.”

  1. Mike January 30, 2012 at 8:21 PM #

    Wow. Great review, I’ll have to look through the limited selection at the local bev-mo for this.

    • Miranda January 31, 2012 at 9:24 AM #

      Thanks! I don’t know how far they distribute, but I recommend anything you find by TG. They have a fantastic light summer beer, too – the ESG (Extra Special Golden). And the IPA is a great go to IPA. Have you been able to find Ninkasi down there yet?

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