1. Brooklyn – Sorachi Ace: It is a classic Saison finished with Champagne yeast. An unfiltered golden farmhouse ale, with a clean malt flavor and the quirky Sorachi Ace hop standing front and center. Dry-hopping releases Sorachi Ace’s bright, citrus, spicy aromatics to tickle the nose before ascending into a fine harmony between pilsner malt and playful Belgian ale.
2. Gueuzerie Tilquin – Oude Gueuze Tilquin à L’Ancienne: This is a blend of 1, 2 and 3 years old lambic re-fermented in bottle for at least 6 months. “Oude” in flemish or “à l’ancienne” in french is an appellation protected by the EU and is restricted for traditional belgian Gueuze in bottle. It even comes in a champagne bottle, corked and caged.
3. Rodenbach – Grand Cru: This is an aged Belgian red ale, which is ‘ripened quietly in oak barrels for two years’, according to the label. It has an extremely pungent aroma of rich grape fruity, with acidic notes, very much like a slightly sour red wine or possibly a Gueuze. In the mouth it is slightly sweet, extremely acidic and fruity, with grapes and even cherries discernible, and very lively. Despite the sweetness it is not at all cloying, even thin, with little or no trace of malt. Finish is sharp and fruity.
4. Chimay – Grande Réserve (Blue): The Chimay Blue Cap, baptized “Grande Reserve” is a dark Trappist beer with a powerful aroma, the complex flavor of which improves across the years. This Belgian Strong Dark Ale was first brewed as a Christmas beer by the monks of Scourmont Abbey in 1956. This authentic Belgian beer, whose tinge of fresh yeast is associated with a light rosy flowery touch, is particularly pleasant. Its aroma, perceived as one enjoys it, only accents the delightful sensations revealed by the odor, all revealing a light but agreeable caramelized note.
5. FiftyFifty Brewing Co. – Eclipse: One of the most epic beer tasting experiences you will ever have; that is what you get when you take Totality Imperial Stout and age it in oak bourbon barrels. That extra step adds a plethora of flavors to the already rich Imperial Stout. At first taste there is a large presence of dark chocolate, espresso and warmth from the alcohol of the beer. Oak barrel character then comes into play with hints of vanilla and coconut, followed by mild bitterness from the hops, and then a nice long lingering finish with hints of tobacco, dark dried fruit and more chocolate. Eclipse is a wonderful companion with dessert. These beers come with different wax colored coatings over the cap, this is because the beer is aged in various types of used barrels. The colored wax will indicate which barrel your beer was aged in. If you can find one of these on the shelf, buy two and age one.
6. Weyerbacher Brewing Company – Blithering Idiot: This is one of my favorite barley-wines that is still being brewed regularly. In fact I’ve been buying a 4 pack every year since 2013 just to keep on my shelf. I probably should start drinking some of those. Anyway, Blithering Idiot, 11.1% ABV, is brewed in the British tradition of balanced, hearty ales. It’s a deep-copper ale with notes of date and fig. The finish is warm and fruity and begs for the next sip. Enjoy Blithering Idiot in a brandy snifter or wine glass with full-flavored meats and cheeses or as an after dinner drink. This wonderful brew is available year-round. Lay a few down, aging only helps a barleywine develop more complexity. This fine ale will keep for years. Weyerbacher says that they feel comfortable setting their “Best By” date out to five years beyond the bottling date
7. Brasserie d’Achouffe – N’Ice Chouffe: Smooth and strong, with spicy notes of thyme and Curacao, this dark beer warms both hearts and atmospheres, making even the coldest winters joyful.
8. Victory Brewing – Jubilee: Fermented with sparkling wine yeast, marrying effervescence with rich, fruit-forward flavors of Belgian style ales. German blanc hops give aromas of pear, apple, white grape. Citrus and spice flavors culminate for a crisp wine-like finish.
9. St. Bernardus – Abt 12: The St.Bernardus Abt 12 is an Abbey ale brewed in the classic ‘Quadrupel’ style of Belgium’s best Abbey Ales. Dark with a full, ivory-colored head. It has a fruity aroma, full of complex flavors and excels because of its long bittersweet finish with a hoppy bite. Seen as one of the best beers in the world. It’s a very balanced beer, with a full-bodied taste and a perfect equilibrium between malty, bitter and sweet. One of the original recipes from the days of license-brewing for the Trappist monks of Westvleteren.
10. Brasserie d’Orval – Orval: This beer is brewed exclusively from spring water, barley malt, hop cones, candy sugar, and yeast. The aroma and the fine taste are due more to the hop cones and the yeast than to the malt that is used.What’s special about Orval’s beer is that hops are added at two different stages of the production process. First, in the brewing room, a large quantity of very fine hops are added – this produces the famous bitter taste and is the reason why the beer keeps for a longer period of time. Later, in the storage cellars, hops are once again added. This dry hopping produces the delightful aroma that completely enraptures even the most carefully forewarned taster.
11. Stone Brewing – Xocoveza: This insanely delicious take on Mexican hot chocolate is crafted with cocoa, coffee, pasilla peppers, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg. First brewed in 2014 with San Diego homebrewer Chris Banker after his recipe was named the winner of Stone’s annual homebrew competition; it quickly became a cross-country sensation as craft beer media and fans cheered for Stone Xocoveza and clamored for more. Now gifted with a new name, Stone Xocoveza for the Holidays and the New Year has joined their eminent lineup of special releases. Stone is releasing it just in time for that time of the year when the joyous spirit of giving is in the air and good behavior is generously rewarded.
12. Firestone Walker – Anniversary Ales: Each year Firestone Walker produces a special blend of its barrel-aged beers to celebrate the California brewery’s anniversary. Local winemakers collaborate with brewers to come up with a custom blend for the birthday beer. Since founding the brewery in 1996, they have specialized in the rare art of brewing beer in oak barrels. In the fall of 2006, they released a limited edition oak-aged strong ale called “10” to commemorate our 10th anniversary. The Anniversary Ale blending session is an annual rite at the brewery. As always, Firestone Walker’s winemaking friends broke into teams, and a spirited competition ensued to create the winning blend.
13. Brouwerij Bosteels – Deus (Brut des Flandres): Full of flavor, and rich in aromas. A magnificent interaction of beer and sparkling wine. Ideal for the before-dinner nibbles and amuse-geules. And even more perfect if you have something to celebrate! This beer is one of the few beers made using the method champenoise, the secondary fermentation method used to make world-renowned Champagne sparkling wines. It’s light on the tongue due to its super-fine bubbles, and has some of the malty sweetness of Belgian ales as well as the floral and bready yeast qualities of Champagne. It’s a little on the higher end cost wise, but then again it did have to travel from Belgium to Champagne then back to Belgium before being shipped out. But trust me, it’s well worth the cost for a celebration.
14. Cloudwater Brew Co. – Brut IPA Champagne: Gyle No. 478. This Brut IPA was fermented with Champagne yeast for a complex yeast presentation and enzymes for a completely dry finish. It is part of a four-way IPA experiment using a variety of yeasts with the same malt and hops. Honestly, you could even go with any Brut IPA for that matter. Brut IPAs are a hybrid style featuring characteristics from other IPA subgenres. It nominally pairs the low bitterness and huge aromatics of the New England IPA with the bright, clear briskness of the West Coast-style IPA. The first commercial example dates to late 2017 and is credited to brewer Kim Sturdavant of San Francisco’s Social Kitchen and Brewery, who added the enzyme amyloglucosidase (for ease, let’s just call it “amylase”) to an IPA after discussing the idea with Tim Sciascia of Cellarmaker Brewing. And often enough they’re fermented with champagne yeast leaving it bone-dry, effervescent, and a fruity hop profile with hints of white wine.
15. Ferme de Romilly – Rosé Cidre: If you aren’t in the mood for beer, here is a heritage cider from France worthy of toasting the New Year. It has a brilliant amber color, with rustic aromas of apricot, fruit, leather, petrol, yuzu zest, roasted agave, cherry stone, bee pollen, crushed hazelnuts, barnyard, and straw with a lightly tannic, vibrant, effervescent, fruity sweet medium body and an intricate, very long heirloom apple, leather, and cantaloupe finish. Finished with Champagne yeast; an intriguing, fun, and funky Rosé cider that’s akin to an orange wine. Natural wine-lovers will rejoice!
Whatever you choose to drink on New Year’s, whether its one of these beers, or manischewitz, everyone here at Bottle King wishes you and your loved ones a healthy, and happy New Year.