Since I have an entire section dedicated to beer reviews, I thought it only fitting to review the beers I had at Bar 35's weekly House of Brews beer tasting event last week. I expect there will also be many more reviews from Bar 35's menu in the future. There were 8 beers on the tasting menu, all grouped under the theme "Winter/Holiday Beers." There was also a brewmaster (founder of Hawaii Nui Brewery) walking around discussing all the different varieties of beer. Before I get to specifics, note that all these beers are great to pair with heavy dinners that you'd have at Christmas or Thanksgiving. You could also have these instead of wine if you're sitting reading a book or watching TV and it's cold outside. These might be a little heavy for the tropics. Anyway, without further ado, here are my reviews/notes:
Sam Adams Octoberfest (Massachusetts) - Has a rich, deep reddish amber color. They roast five different malts together to give the beer a distinct toffee and caramel flavor, which is balanced with a bitterness derived from Bavarian Noble hops (hops, in the simplest sense, are what give beer its "bitterness"). I'm a big fan of all of Sam Adams seasonal beers. This is no different. It has a great balance that I would have again. 5.3% abv
Buffalo Bill's Pumpkin Ale (California) - I'm not sure I had ever tried a pumpkin ale before, but if they all taste like this then sign me up for more. Buffalo Bill's brewery actually uses baked and roasted pumpkins to compliment the cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg that give the beer its distinct flavor. It's not so overpowering that you think you're drinking pumpkin pie, but it the flavors are bold and there is no mistaking what's inside. It's a perfect Thanksgiving beer. Fun Fact: George Washington used to brew his own beer and he often used pumpkins, too. 5.2% abv
Anchor Christmas Ale (California) - Not good. Every year Anchor Brewing has a distinctive and creative Christmas Ale that is only available from early November to mid-January. The Ale's recipe is different every year, which almost fools me into giving next year a chance. However, whenever I consider trying another one, I hear the old cliche in my head, "fool me once, shame on you...fool me twice, shame on me." Fun Fact: the brewery puts a different tree on its label every year as well. This is because "trees have symbolized the winter solstice when the earth, with its seasons, appears born anew." Maybe they should spend more time brewing and less time being hippies.
Deshutes Jubelale (Oregon) - This was my favorite of the night. The Jubelale is brewed with a dark crystal malt and finished with only a slight hoppy bitterness. Only available October through December, this beer has hints of roasted coffee and chocolate similar to many porters. The color is a deep red around the edges with a dense mahogany center. I actually found this to get better as it warmed up for some reason. Maybe it takes a little while to release more flavor? 6.7% abv.
Sierra Nevada Celebration Fresh Hop Ale (California) - Had one Sierra Nevada, had'em all. I didn't taste much difference between this and the regular ale. 6.8% abv.
Hawaii Nui Southern Cross (Hawaii) - An "imperial red ale" brewed with a Belgian yeast strain. It has an intense red color, complex aroma, and slight hoppy finish. It was good and I would probably put it in the top half of the beers on this list, but nothing to necessarily write home about. This would pair well with pork or duck. 8.3% abv.