Posts Tagged ‘ seasonal ’

Baseball and a Winter Wonderland

Amid the sunshine and baseball of the fast-approaching SoCal summer, today I am taking a dip back in time with Ninkasi Brewing Company‘s winter seasonal, Oatis Oatmeal Stout. It has been rolling around in my car since December, for the record. Also for the record, note that you should store your beer bottles upright to avoid any contamination from the metal in the cap.

Having said that, the warm and slightly nutty nose alone was enough to drown out any damage I may have done through my rough treatment of this particular bomber. This brew’s true strength is its mouthfeel, I believe.  It tastes fairly standard and predictably complex as far as dark beer is concerned and definitely not overbearing. A balanced feel in the mouth, then, is the perfect complement to this smooth, dark nectar: smooth up front, bitter in the back.  It’s like a mullet in my mouth!

Though I would love to leave you thinking that Oatis tastes like white trash (though I am shirking the rules of class by tasting straight from the 22 in front of the TV on my living room couch), I must say it tastes more like a cozy night in front of a warm fire as the steady rain pelts your windows. Quite refreshing, on this warm May night I now describe as chilly (Hey – I’ve been here since September, okay?! I’m slowly losing my hardcOregon. Sad, I know.).

On an NL scale so far this season from the Houston Astros (13-23) to the Philadelphia Phillies (22-13), I’d give Oatis an LA Dodgers (Beat SD Padres [22-14] tonight without league-leading slugger Andre Ethier). Not perfect (19-17), but even after a small beating it still delivers.

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Full Sail’s Wassail

It’s stormy and rainy in beautiful southern California this weekend, so I figured this would be the perfect time to bust out another Oregon winter brew.  When in Rain…
One of the winter seasonals I brought home over Christmas break was Full Sail Brewing’s Wassail (is it just my pun-tastic tendencies, or does anyone else wish they had spelled it Wass’Ale or summat?). The bottle itself is enough to make you want to go skiing…or just hole up in a ski lodge with a few bottles and a sweetheart. Even the cap is cute, with “stoked to brew, brewed to stoke” printed around the top and “naughty” and “nice” arrows on the sides of this twist-off.

Full Sail's Clever Cap

Stoked to Brew, Brewed to Stoke

After twisting the cap to the “nice” side and pouring the rich red-brown nectar into my ghetto glass, I shoved my nose in for a whiff…and had to jam my schnoz in further and further to get a fair sniff. Though the toasty, slightly grassy aroma was definitely a plus, it was weaker than I had been hoping for. I suppose there is such a thing as too much of a good thing, but by the same token, this was too little of a great nose.
My first swallow confirms my love of winter seasonals – the taste goes straight to the back of my tongue and stays there. I wouldn’t say this ale is quite full-bodied, but Wassail is definitely on the heaviest side of medium-bodied. Perhaps the 7.0% abv tips the scale on that subject, however. Drinking my way down the glass, I am in love with how the head lingers on the glass walls. What a great visual to complement an all-around enjoyable winter warmer. Now, if I only had a raging fire with which to enjoy this. Oh, to be in the Northwest.
On an adrenaline scale from watching TV (1) to skydiving (10), Wassail earned a heavy day of windsurfing (8.7) from me. How appropriate, considering Hood River is one of the best places in the world for it.

Winter Blues? Bah, Humbug’r

I must admit, I was drawn to MacTarnahan’s Winter Humbug’r by the flashy label. Seriously, though, who doesn’t love strange cartoons of sloppy, inebriated men waving mistletoe in your face?  And that color scheme: aesthetically inviting. Too bad you can’t taste a label.

Holiday Humbug'r

...and a bottle o' beer in a pear tree

During the pour, it seemed thick and pleasantly dark – that’s a good sign, right?!  I do so love a good, dark beer – especially in a winter seasonal. The nose on this porter was characteristically nutty and sweet. I started to get a bit excited for that first sweet sip.  All signs were pointing to go.

In for the taste, and…

…payoff. Everything in the nose translated to my mouth. It wasn’t as bitter as I like my porters, but it did have a slight bite other than what I’d expected – perhaps on its way to a stout roast-ish taste, but just a tinge of it (“deceptively dark,” indeed). Strangely enough, though, none of this made it to the back of my tongue.  Gypped.  Even that roasty-toasty taste was along the periphs.

As for the finish, I’ve had better.  I’ve had much worse, but from a porter I expect better.  It lasted long enough after a few sips, but once I did get it to linger, I wished I hadn’t. It did not deck my halls with cheer, as promised, but I guess you could say it did fulfill its goal of unraveling my ribbons.  I would be content to drink this with friends and a movie, but I can think of a few porters I’d rather enjoy with dinner.

On a Sandra Bullock scale from All About Steve (1) to The Blind Side (10…remember, this scale is relative), I give Humbug’r about a Forces of Nature (7.2) – entertaining for sure, but neither memorable nor high art.  If you must serve this with food, try pairing with an open-face sandwich (broiled, of course) with provolone or swiss.

Specs: 5.3% abv, 27 IBUs; 6-er of 12 oz. bottles purchased at a WINCO in Eugene, OR (I forget for how much, though).

MacTarnahan’s is renowned for their Amber, and their PR guy is unofficially titled the “Director of Pontification and Tale Telling.”  Cute.