Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Seasonal delights (okay, mainly beer).

As with all things that are good in life, one of the best parts about the holidays--along with, you know, being around good people, and the lights, and the presents, and stuff--is the food and drink. In particular, I feel like this is the first year that I've really taken note of all the amazing winter ales that are put out by all of my favorite local Portland/Oregon breweries. As if I didn't think that all of these breweries were awesome enough already (and each one will eventually get their own blog post), I've really taken an appreciation to the cycle of seasonal brews offered by them: typically light, pale ales in the summer; more amber ales in the fall; and then dark ales in the winter. It's the same as getting excited for seasonal drinks from Starbucks, or seasonal milkshakes from Burgerville, but better, because these taste good and get you drunk.

Also, a word on dark ales: The first time I learned that it was possible for me to actually like beer was when I spent a semester in Europe. There, the pale ales--Heineken and Amstel, mainly, since I was in the Netherlands and all--were the ones that tasted just a little too much like urine for my taste (and watery urine at that). But the dark ales--notably, my beloved Brand, which I have come to terms with never, ever finding in the United States--were rich and sweet and delicious. You can imagine my surprise, then, when I returned to the States and discovered that all the dark beers here were real bitter and tasted like butt. So I generally stick to the wimpier paler ales. However, all of these seasonal dark ales from Oregon breweries come closer to that European taste I really love: intense and full but also delicately sweet.

There is also apparently a Holiday Ale Festival which happens each year here downtown which we already missed, but you can bet it'll be on my Holiday To Do List next year. Portland, you are SO GOOD AT BEER!

A list of ones we've tried:
- Deschutes' Jubelale (As pictured above...I think Deschutes is in the running to be Kathy's & my favorite brewery.)
- Full Sail's Wreck the Halls
- Widmer Brothers' Brrrr (apparently all the other breweries had taken all the witty names already)
- McTarnahan's Humbug'r (this one leaned a little more towards the bitter side, but was still totally palatable)
- Bridgeport's Ebenezer

Other seasonal delights, of the non-alcoholic variety:

- Okay, so the holiday drinks at Starbucks and the seasonal milkshakes at Burgerville are still pretty exciting. Of the Starbucks variety, I am a fan of adding in some gingerbread syrup to the chai, or if you're really feeling decadent, having a chai with eggnog, otherwise known as the CHEG to us Starbucksian employees. (And yes, I do really like chai.) As for Burgerville, I had the chocolate peppermint milkshake for the first time this year the other day and it was just so delightful. And made with real smashed up candy canes! The little bits get stuck in your teeth and everything!

- Limited edition peppermint bark ice cream from Haagen Dazs. Oh man. Haagen Dazs never disappoints. I was a little leery that it'd be too sweet since it's white chocolate ice cream as opposed to the classic dark-or-milk-chocolate-peppermint combo, but I never should have doubted the Dazs. It is perfect.

In conclusion, that's my advice for getting drunk or collapsing from sugar highs this holiday season. Hurray!


  1. oh, that's too decadent. erin, can you finish it?

    I am so excited to drink more winter ales. BRING IT ON, OREGON!

    Chippy should really visit in the winter. For the holiday ale fest, obv.


    this is probably my favorite blog post ever. Chick-fil-a has a peppermint chip milkshake which is quite tasty.