Lompoc’s 2012 Holiday Beers

25 Nov

Well, I hope this finds you relaxing after a wonderful Thanksgiving celebrated with friends and family, an understanding that black friday is for choosing between a stout or a porter, and the football…well lets not talk about the football.  If you are now in the holiday spirit, but an early Thanksgiving is leaving a gap in your merrymaking plans, then I have just the thing for you – a little holiday cheer.

Miranda, Brian, and I spent a few hours back on Monday, November 12th, at Lompoc’s Sidebar tasting their winter brews with a few other bloggers. Why were we so privileged?  Simple answer: to get you all excited to go to the Sidebar on Tuesday, November 27th for their holiday beer release extravaganza.  This is the unofficial kick off to one of the best beer drinking weeks on the calendar: the Holiday Ale Festival. Soon you will be able to get the official descriptions from the Lompoc website, but below I give my thoughts (and a few from Miranda and Brian) on each beer.  All pallets are different, and agreeing or disagreeing is not the point, this is to pique your interest and help you out the door to raise a pint on Tuesday, Holiday Ale Fest Eve.  There are few beers I will definitely be going back for seconds for next Tuesday.

Jolly Bock
This beer was served to us right out of the bright tank.  This beer was both young and flat.  The beer smelled very sweet and was slightly bready.  Because the beer was flat the sweetness was quite pronounced and finished a bit astringent/ hot.  The alcohol was very noticeable, beyond its moderately strong 7.8%.

8 Malty Nights
A chocolate rye beer, brewed with 15 to 18% rye, for all your Chanukah needs. I will just get right to it, this was the beer I was most excited to try.  The nose – damn, the nose – okay, maybe a bit dramatic, but the strong coffee and rich malt notes were amazing. 8 Malty is a medium to big bodied beer and very drinkable. The taste starts lightly sweet, with rich chocolate/ coffee flavors, and drifts toward the rye, which brightens and drys the finish.  I loved this beer in the past and I love it this year too.  Run and get a pint of this beer (or bottle) once it is released, because I am sure to drink more than my fair share.

On a side note, the other  Lompoc holiday porter (Holiday Cheer) was not made this year as the loss of the New Old Lompoc production has yet to be fully covered by the 5Q location.  If this was your favorite Lompoc holiday beer, Jerry (the owner of Lompoc) assured us that it will return.

Franc’ly Brewdolph
The return of the Brewdolph blend from the 2011 vintage aged in Cabernet Franc and this year’s Brewdolph.  Blended the day of the tasting by the newest Lompoc brewer, Josh, so this beer was also flat but not at all young.  As I brought the glass to my nose, I could definitely smell the barrel, with a strong wood/oak and a hint of malty vanilla.  Brian raved about how good this beer smells, and I agree, its very complex.  The flavor matches this, with a forward sweetness that progressively drys toward the finish from the noticeable tannins.  All of us could detect the slightest sourness, dark fruit and spice which were quickly overwhelmed by the wood.  Very good, and I expect it to get better once carbonated which should give a boost to the minor flavor components of this complex beer.  It is sad this beer will not be bottled as we all agreed it would age very well.

C-sons Greetings
The holiday version of the C-note.  I was lucky enough to have pre-previewed this beer at the recent Lompoc-Wildwood brewers dinner.  If the big, malty, spicy winter beers are not your thing, don’t worry your little hophead, C-sons Greetings will get you through the winter.  The beer starts with a strong grapefruit/resinous hop nose.  The hop bitterness dominates the flavor, yet is nicely balanced. Awesome IPA.  At 8% this is a hoppy winter warmer.  It is out now in bottles, so pick a few up at your local bottle shop.

Old Tavern Rat
This year’s Tavern Rat is very different from past years. Jerry said it best, “this beer is good now but will be fully mature in a year.” To me this beer smelled a bit like grain, as is being ground for brewing, with an accompanying sweetness.  The beer has just a slight sweetness and toasty flavors, which was quickly overwhelmed by a spicy/planty bitterness. This bitterness will mellow with time. It is not my favorite batch, especially compared to years past, but if American style barley wines are more your thing, give this years Old Tavern Rat a try.

Bourbon Barrel Aged Wee Heavy
Brewed with the Ladies of Lagers and Ales (LOLA)
The third beer right off the bright tank, but brewed in December 2011 and aged for nine months in bourbon barrels. Again this is not a young beer, just flat.  As I bring the glass to my nose, I got barrel, vanilla, and strong alcohol. Miranda detected chocolate banana and on second consideration she is totally right. The alcohol in this beer is quite warm even at 7.5% and the alcohol is present throughout. We all agree to a minor banana flavor and a stronger vanilla. I noted an apple flavor as well. All of the flavors were well matched to a strong malt backbone. I know I talk about the alcohol a lot, but it is necessary to balance out a beer with limited hops like this Wee Heavy.  I was excited to taste this beer and it met all my expectations. I like this beer and will drink more at the full release on November 27.

Speaking of the full release, an additional beer will make the tap list.  Blitzen, a spiced golden ale.  At 4.6% ABV it is the only sessions beer on the list.  I known Blitzen is a good beer and worth your time. Also, Bryan will participate in a collaboration between Lompoc and Breakside. Brewed the Tuesday after the media tasting, the brewers described this to be a strong, red ale brewed with flaked rye, dark rye, Willamette and Centennial hops, and a touch of honey.  The collaboration should round out a very good run of tasty holiday beers, but you will have to wait one whole day until the Holiday Ale Festival to try this one.

Favorites:
Brian = Franc’ly Brewdolph
Michael = 8 Malty Nights
Miranda = 8, Franc’ly, and Wee Heavy
yes, she is our perpetually indecisive one. 

Convinced to clear your schedule Tuesday at 4pm?  I thought so, see you there.

Sorry Jerry, there already is a patron saint of beer

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