Lompoc’s 2013 Holiday Beers

19 Nov
Ahhhh, the holidays

Ahhhh, the holidays

We made our yearly pilgrimage to Lompoc to try their holiday seasonal releases last night.  The actual release party is December 3rd, but they like to give the “press” an early look to get the word out.  There are benefits to occasionally posting on this blog after all!  Lompoc brews more beers specifically for the holidays (9 specialty beers this year) than any other brewery in Portland.  Jerry Fechter (owner), Brian Keilty, Irena Bierzynski, and Grant Golden are one hardworking crew.  They get after it!  The tasting was held at the Sidebar, the Lompoc tasting room just around the corner from the 5th Quadrant on N. Williams.  The room is ringed by the barrels that constitute their aging program.  There is a picture of Don Younger over the fireplace.  This is a beer lovers place: warm and inviting.

Why should you be interested in Lompoc’s holiday offerings, you ask?  They’re good, that’s why. The following are my notes in real time from last night.  Michael will be posting later in the week with a comparison between this year and last year’s beers.  I highly encourage all of our readers to hit up Lompoc for some of these beers before they’re gone.  Unless you don’t live here.  In which case, get on a plane and get up here.  Now.

2013 Cherry Christmas– right out of the wine tote, they hadn’t racked it yet. Although it was a bit flat, the flavors cannot be denied.  The smell is bright with cherry fruit.  Just a lovely scent off of this beer.  A subtle sourness to the taste…I can’t wait to try this when it’s fully ready.  There were comments from Brian and Jerry that Brett might get introduced at some point to this beer.  Hmmmm, count me intrigued.

Jolly Bock– high gravity lager with a great dark amber hue.  According to Jerry, this was originally brewed for the Holiday Ale Fest in 1999, and was so well received that they continued brewing it every year.  Apparently lagers were not in fashion in ’99 at the HAF.  This beer is biscuity and malty with a great bitter, clean finish.  Super drinkable even at 7.3%.

Brewdolph– a Belgian red that happens to be my favorite every year (unless 8 Malty Nights is around…no, I’m not bitter).  Love what the Belgian Ardennes yeast they used this year did to the batch.  Incredible flavors to be found in this beer.  Complex but completely approachable.  Another winner.

Holiday Cheer– first made for the Holiday Ale Fest in the ’01-’03 range.  As Jerry’s brain is addled with hop resin, this range of dates is about as close as we’ll probably get from him.  A chocolate porter made with vanilla instead of the dark rye from 8 Malty Nights.  Definitely aged on vanilla beans.  10 pounds in the bright tank to be exact.  It is sweet and dark and once it is finished on the vanilla beans and fully carbonated this will be a nice pint on a rainy night.

C-Sons Greetings– 8.5% Double IPA that you can get in bottles.  Love this beer.  Big, bold, and friggin’ awesome.  All the “C” hops in this puppy.  Chinook, Crystal, Cascade, Columbus, Centennial, Challenger, and Cluster.  According to Irena, 20 lbs of this mix in the dry hop.  Malt in spades, big fruit notes and pine to the nines!  I could drink this year round.  Just one of the best Double/Imperial IPAs around.  Makes my top 3 along with Hop Venom and Blue Dot.

Guess which one of these barley wines was aged in bourbon barrels?

Guess which one of these barley wines was aged in bourbon barrels?

Old Tavern Rat Barleywine– this year’s version was finished in 2012 and has been ageing a year.  Like many high gravity barleywines, this ages really well and is usually a bit better after at least a year or two.  What I have always loved about Old Tavern Rat is how it changes year to year.  Always sweet and bitter, but the flavors change yearly.  Not everyone is a Barleywine fan, but this could convert someone.  At 9.4%, this beer could wreck you if not properly respected.

Bourbon Barrel Aged Old Tavern Rat– smells like a god damn Madeira!  I’ve had some big barrel aged beers before, but this is something to have as an after dinner digestif.  Dessert in a glass, but not in a cloying fashion.  Only available in bottles at the Sidebar starting December 3rd, with the possibility of some days on tap.  A must try.

Revelry Red Ale– this is the beer headed to Holiday Ale Fest.  The beer has not been blended yet, so it is just a Big Bang Red ale aged in whiskey barrels on cherries.   It will be blended with the same beer that was aged on Maryhill Winery Port Barrels.  Hard to comment on what this beer is all about as it has yet to be finalized with the blending.  Many people at the tasting suggested it was good to go, as is.  I agree.  This beer was really tasty.  Slightly oaky with a hint of sour.  Brian and Jerry assure us the blend will be even better.  That’s a tall order, gents!  Guess we’ll all have to attend HAF to find out how good it is.

Blitzen– not yet ready for prime time, so no tasting notes to share.  Available at the pubs, it is a golden ale spiced differently every year.  This year has dried apricots and coriander, and used centennial hops.

Great times with some great beers

This tasting was all about the merriment!  Just like Lompoc to throw this kind of party for the “press”.  This brewery continues to be steady, well-respected and connected to their patrons.  You couldn’t ask for a better embodiment of “local” brewing in Portland.  Jerry, Brian, Irena, and Grant are all down-to-earth types who will gladly talk beer with you after a hard day brewing.  Any Portlander that isn’t spending time at a Lompoc pub is missing out.  Take a moment to head over and try their Holiday lineup starting December 3rd.  You’ll love what they are pouring.

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One Response to “Lompoc’s 2013 Holiday Beers”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Merry New Year | taphandle - December 31, 2013

    […] wanted to say Happy New Year, and I hope everyone is sipping on something lovely.  Just like the first time I had this Barrel-Aged Old Tavern Rat, there are tons of sherry/madeira notes from the barrel […]

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