If you’ve ever been in a BevMo!, the selections are endless from wines, liqueurs, spirits, mixers, and, of course, beer. How could you possible try them all and know which one you love? The BevMo! Holiday Beer Fest was the beer tasting event of the year showcasing 100+ of the best breweries in the world. Just like a wine tasting, they give you tastes of each of their holiday, seasonal, specialty beers, hard ciders, and craft sodas. If you find one you like, you could go back for more. If you didn’t like it, you could empty it in strategically placed buckets around the tasting areas. Golden Road Brewing was the host this year, located on “the other side of the tracks” in Glendale. Parking was a little sparse but when you found a space, you were on your way. Even with some scattered showers, most fest goers where there for one thing only, the taste of beer! A little rain was not going to dampen their spirits.
Let’s take a look at some of the breweries and their special brews:
Ass Kisser Hand Crafted Ales from San Jose, CA served their Smoked Porter with a smoky, caramel malt backbone with a medium hop bitterness. Tasting notes: dark ale; very smooth, robust flavor; bitter bite; hoppy flavor.
Karl Strauss Brewing Company from San Diego, CA served up their Big Barrel Double IPA made with imported New Zealand Nelson Sauvin hops which provides a vibrant tropical aroma, Warrior and Ahtanum hops which produce an assertive bitterness that stands out against a firm malt backbone. Tasting notes: wheat brew flavor; strong fruity nose; light bodied so you almost forget it is beer.
Bootlegger’s Brewery from Fullerton, CA served up their Pumpkin Ale. It’s a fall seasonal release beer that is brewed with cinnamon, nutmeg, molasses, brown sugar, and real pumpkin juice. Tasting notes: – very subtle pumpkin flavor; light bodied.
Goose Island Beer Company from Chicago, IL served up their Pepe Nero. It has the aroma of roasted chestnuts, a dark, mohagany hue, and is brewed with black peppercorns. Tasting notes: surprisingly tastes like a lager; taste is very light like the syrup is running low on a soda fountain.
Estrella Damm from Barcelona, Spain served up their Inedit. It is a unique blend of barley, wheat malt, coriander, orange peel, and licorice. Tasting notes: Smooth, clean taste; nothing fancy; middle of the road beer; not as bitter as a macro brewed lager; very easy to drink.
Unibroue from Quebec, Canada served up their Maudite. It’s been brewed since 1992, strong amber-red ale, beige, rocky foam, fine bubbles with slow effervescence. The nose has a malt, orange, coriander, clove, floral aroma. The flavor has a robust maltiness and spiciness that is counterbalanced by an assertive, crisp hop finish. Tasting notes: strong flavor compared to how it looks; heavy bodied; for the serious beer drinker.
Hermitage Brewing from San Jose, CA served up their Hoptopia Double IPA India Pale Ale. It has a tropical nose, full citrus and floral flavors, good malt balance 8.0 ABV/IBU 65. Tasting notes: fruity aroma; hard liquor aftertaste; tastes like it is infused with chili peppers causing a burning sensation.
Firestone Walker Brewing Company from Paso Robles, CA served up their Double DBA. It is their flagship beer brewed at double strength. The English caramel malt pairs well with the assertive medium toast American oak barrels. Malts used: premium Two-Row, maris Otter Pale, Munich, Crystal, and Chocolate. Hops used: Magnum, late Kettle-Styrian Golding, East, Kent Golding. Tasting notes: red wheat color; licorice flavor; orange flavor on the end; tastes like a cocktail, but not unpleasant with an aged oak flavor.
Anchor Brewing from San Francisco, CA served up their Christmas Ale. Available from early November to mid-January, it’s been brewed each year since 1975. A rich, dark spiced ale recipe that is always slightly different from year to year. Tasting notes: dark color; good, mild flavor; very smooth; very easy to drink; light to medium body.
Red Hook Brewery from Woodinville, WA and Portsmouth, NH served up their Winter Hook. It offers a rich caramel body that balances a big malt backbone with the aggressive dry hopped brew. Tasting notes: medium/strong, but robust flavor; nothing out of the ordinary; leaves a bitter aftertaste.
Golden Road Brewing, the host of the event, served up their Burning Bush IPA. It uses smoked malt characterized by a traditional German-style Rauchbier with the hops of a west coast IPA. The deep copper colored ale has a light smoky aroma sits atop a floral and piney hopping. Tasting notes: good full flavored lager; stronger flavor than macro brew; surprisingly smooth for how strong it is.
Hangar 24 Craft Brewery from Redlands, CA served up their Orange Wheat. The citrus aroma, light airy mouthfeel, and tangy finish are trademarks for this unfiltered beer. They add whole, locally grown oranges throughout the brewing process which coalesce with the wheat and barley base. Tasting notes: very light; subtle citrus flavor; taste is very light like the syrup is running low on a soda fountain.
Anderson Valley Brewing Company from Boonville, CA served up their Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale. Deep amber in color, with aroma of spice, nutmeg, and hop bite to balance out the creamy and smooth mouthfeel, and medium sweetness. Tasting notes: caramel flavor; medium body; nutty, woody flavor.
Surf Brewery from Ventura, CA served up their Black IPA Style Ale. It’s an American-style dark ale with citrusy and floral American hops balanced against toasty dark malts and a hint of roasted barley. Tasting notes: powerful, overwhelming taste; if the flavor was dialed back a bit, it would be a good beer; bitter; very heavy.
Kona Brewing Co. from Kona, HI served up their Pipeline Porter. Available during fall/winter, it is smooth and dark with distinctive roasty aroma and earthy complexity from a diverse blend of premium malted barley. 100% Kona coffee is added for the roasty aroma and flavor. A delicate blend of hops rounds out the beer. Tasting notes: subtle coffee flavor; medium bodied; strong overall flavor.
Sprecher Brewery from Milwaukee, WI served up a line of gourmet sodas. Their Cream Soda is made with Wisconsin honey and pure vanilla that are blended in a gas-fired kettle creating a delicate caramelization of sugars. The end result is a rich vanilla flavored soda with hints of honey and caramel and a long-lasting, creamy head.
If anything peaks your interest, get yourself to BevMo! and buy yourself some. Remember, some of these are only made in the fall and winter, so get yours soon before the snow starts to melt!
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