Every year, a day or two before Thanksgiving day, I begin to consider my beer lineup for the day. My personal line up. Not what I am going to offer my guests, but what am I going to have with MY salad, MY turkey and stuffing and potatoes, and MY dessert. And while I have a strong appreciation for appropriate beer/food pairings it rarely ever gets to that point on my table. Even if I plan for it, and get the beer, I usually approach beer with a what-do-I-feel-like-drinking-right-now attitude. So while that Bavarian hefeweizen would go great with that candied walnuts and granny smith apples over baby spinach dressed in a cranberry vinaigrette, it stays in my fridge until December, because hefe has never been a go-to style for me. And that coffee imperial stout I bought to have with my chocolate cheese cake at second dessert, well, I am drinking that at about 9 a.m. because it is a holiday, and it tastes good. So this year I am skipping the food considerations. I am just going for my favorite beers. And my favorite western WA beers.
Before I get into that, I think I should maybe discuss what makes a beer my favorite. There are so many great breweries in this state.
And so many medals awarded to these breweries, their brewers, and their beers. These medals can carry a lot of weight, and really create a first impression of a beer for people. I have never actually taken a beer to a competition before. At this point, I have no real intention to do so, although, who knows if that will change? I believe that a lot of attention is focused on how well a beer is brewed to particular style guidelines, when all I am judging a beer on is how much do I like drinking it. I used to really get into beer judging, and even studied to become a certified judge. Then I realized I didn’t really ENJOY the beer anymore. I enjoyed judging, and finding flaws, and overanalyzing to the point that I missed the experience of the beer as a whole experience. So, now that I have decided what I intend to stock my fridge with this coming long weekend, I am choosing these beers entirely on how much I personally like them, plain and simple.
I am already excited about a bottle of Lazy Boy Belgian Strong. Lazy Boy, out of Everett, makes great beer through and through, but for me, their Belgian has always been the standout. At 9%-ish, it is actually a pretty delicate beer. I am not going into all of the “it has a light fruit nose, backed by apple and peach” nonsense. This beer is a Belgian Golden. It has the flavors and aromas typical of that style, but slightly more subtle, which is what makes it so interesting for me. It is also what makes it easy to too much of it too fast.
I think I will go down to Black Raven and pick up a growler of Scotch Ale. I like Scotch Ale, and theirs is both close to where I will be Thanksgivinging (that is a verb) and friggin’ delicious. This time of year, I tend toward malty beers. Not real surprising. I have only had occasion to drink this beer a couple of times, and I am looking forward to the third.
On my way north, I will stop in at Fish Brewing for some of their Winter Fish. I prefer their StarFish Imperial Red, personally, but as it is out of season, my second choice is always the Winter Fish. Kind of a double IPA balanced heavily toward the malt makes this a really great drinking beer for after a big meal.
I think I will also pick up a sixer of the Jolly Roger from Maritime.
It has been one of my favorite winter beers for a long time now, and I haven’t had any from this year’s batch. Convenient, eh? Such a full rich malty beer goes really well with a big plate of comfort food, or as a night cap. I intend to enjoy both.
About the author
Adam Orrick is the head brewer at Grove Street Brewhouse in Shelton, WA. He has been brewing professionally since June of 2009, all of which has been spent at GSB, save a brief internship at Lazy Boy Brewing in Everett, WA. For more about Adam and Grove Street, visit their brewery, their facebook page, or the GSB blog at grovestreetbrewhouse.wordpress.com