If all you want for Christmas is a beautiful, live concert, the Groovin’ Higher Orchestra is the answer and they’d prefer not to be wrapped. Rich Wetzel’s Groovin’ Higher Orchestra is a who’s who of big band musicians in the Puget Sound. Some of the musicians have played in the Air Force, Army, Navy bands, respectively, while others have seen the world while playing on cruise ships and with road bands. Yet whatever the past experiences were, they all have one thing in common from recent years: the annual Christmas show. Rich Wetzel’s “Big Band Christmas Dinner Show” will be held at 7 p.m. inside the Temple Theater. Peaks and Pints suggests you whet your Wetzel with a prefunk or postfunk holiday beer flight we call Christmas Beer Crosscut 12.11.19: Big Band Christmas.
Christmas Beer Crosscut 12.11.19: Big Band Christmas
12% ABV, 21 IBU
Brasserie Dubuisson introduced Bush de Noël in 1991 to respond to consumer demands for the ideal beer to add luster to their end-of-year celebrations. Americans know it as Scaldis Noël — a name change to avoid confusion with Busch. Its bouquet is impressive, with smooth alcohol, honey, and cracked pepper notes that all vie for attention. The flavor sinks deep into the tongue with toffee and honey sweetness, followed by raisin, plum fruitiness, peppery spice and assertive bitterness. It’s so easy to drink you don’t realize it’s around 12 percent alcohol until you ask.
5% ABV, 22 IBU
Rogue Ales Santa’s Private Reserve is a Belgian dark ale packed with tangerines and boysenberries. Rogue Brewmaster John Maier must have been listening to “The Twelve Days of Christmas” but hates drummers as this craft beer was brewed with 11 ingredients: Munich, Carahell, Special W, Caramalt and C-75 malts, Magnum and Rogue Farms Independent hops, Dark Belgian Candi Sugar, brown sugar, Imperial Workhorse Yeast and Free Range Coastal Water. The candi sugar enhances the sweet and tart characteristics of the fruit, and the beer takes a little bit from both sides of the list: it will put a little color on your cheeks, but finishes on the sweet side.
9.5% ABV, 26 IBU
The cats at Silver City Brewery excel in their Barrel-Aged Series, from Bourbon Barrel Aged Time Goddess Imperial Stout to Port Barrel Giant Made of Shadows. But the barleywine is the star. This holiday bourbon barrel-aged English barleywine offers up a rich aroma of toffee and sweet cherry, with a rush of warm vanilla, bourbon and caramel malt to create an immaculate fireside drinking companion.
Block 15 Figgy Pudding
Often called “plum pudding” — despite the fact that it contains no plums whatsoever — figgy pudding was first recorded as “Christmas Pudding” in 1858 and later popularized in the carol, “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.” Block 15 Brewing’s English-style old ale is called Figgy Pudding despite the fact that it contains no figgy pudding whatsoever. Who cares. Brewed with black strap molasses, blend of English pale and specialty malts, and an extended maturation in freshly-emptied brandy barrels and gentle spicing with ceylon cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice, this warming holiday beer is a blessing.
10.6% ABV, 94 IBU
Heathen Brewing’s Reindeer Tears is a bourbon barrel-aged American barleywine. It pours cloudy rosé copper with a cream-colored pillow of fine foam that reduces after a minute or so. The nose is brown sugar, burnt orange, wheat, bourbon and citrus. The Tears begins with smooth malts molasses, a bit of toffee followed by caramel. As it warms sweet dark fruity esters appear. As the Tears rolls the bourbon, booze and light spicy oak note along with blunted aged pine hops and spicy wintertime cookies cut perfectly into the thick bodacious sweetness.