Do you feel a chill in the air? Jack Frost nipping at your nose? Hard to imagine on 81-plus degree days in the middle of summer, but Peaks and Pints will be celebrating the holiday season all day by pouring a five-beer flight of winter-ish craft beers. Warm snaps in the weather make for fine opportunities to sip bold winter beers, bursting with spices, roasted malts, and complex flavors. Take a break from those lighter brews and sip the bold, rich porters, stouts and winter warmers that are typically enjoyed during the colder months. Christmas is five months away, y’all. Get excited. Or just go drink our Craft Beer Crosscut 7.24.17: A Flight of Winter In July.
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.
7% ABV, 45 IBU
Tsunami Stout has taken a voyage into uncharted barrels. Why would Pelican Brewing Co. mess with this delicious full-bodied, distinct dark chocolate and cappuccino delight? Dip your nose into Berried At Sea and all ties are broken. Sweet blackberries flood out of the glass. Toward the tail end, we pick up a bit of Tsunami’s roastiness. The flavor is lively and complex; the texture, silky but not heavy, with a fine, creamy carbonation. Here too Berried At Sea is surprisingly light on the roastiness, and it carries little perceptible alcohol heat. Oh, but the tart blackberry flavor hits hard with a dark chocolate finish. Yum.
7.5% ABV, 72 IBU
Dry Fly Distillery sits on the Spokane River in its namesake city. It produces a wonderful Triticale Wheat Whiskey using 100 percent Eastern Washington soft white wheat distilled twice in traditional American whiskey style then aged a minimum of three years in American Oak barrels. Frequently, Dry Fly’s neighbor, No-Li Brewhouse, grabs the used Wheat Whiskey oak barrels and ages its beers, like its Winter Warmer, for two years. The whiskey aging muscles its way through in a big way with honey and brown sugar notes.
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.
12.4% ABV, 100 IBU
Doom is a version of Founders Brewing’s Double Trouble imperial IPA that’s spent four months in bourbon barrels. The aroma is mouth-wateringly fruity, with pineapple, tangerine, peach and cantaloupe. The malts and the barreling treatment contribute vanilla custard, bourbon and toffee, and the hops add a bit of fresh-cut grass, plus a whiff of cedar or juniper. Overall, this tastes like an excellent American barleywine. It coats the palate with a pleasant smoothness that contrasts with the warm finish, with a lingering sweetness that peeks through. There’s just a lot going on in this craft beer.