Thursday, December 29, 2011

Toasting the New Year

I have spent some time thinking about what beer styles are most appropriate for most our NYE celebrations, and I have come to some conclusions. Let me first state that this is all my opinion, but please be aware that I agree with all of my opinions that are about to be voiced.

It seems that a lot of NYE partiers fancy spirits or champangne on this occasion. Fine play, but we are talking beer here. I prefer to go with the theme of champagne as it seems more New Year's Eve-ie to me.

 Some champagne?

I am sticking with the recommendation of pale and fizzy, no worries I will not utter the forbidden BMC words. Rather I would like to suggest the country of Belgium. Think Belgian Golden Strong: light in body, effervescent, slight pale fruit notes like pear. They also usually feature slight peppery or spicy notes. Very crisp and dry. In this style I love Duvel. Other options that can be available across the USA are Russian River's Damnation, Delirium Tremens, and North Coast's Pranqster. All are really great beers. Be sure that you decant these beers into some appropriate glassware, because you don't drink champagne out of the bottle (we hope). Another note on decanting: some of these beers may have dregs in the bottom of the bottle. Store them upright, and pour the bottle all at once into your guests glasses so as not to rouse the lees. One last note, when Golden Strong's are done right they mask their substantial alcohol well, they can be 'sneaky' in that regard for their drinker.

Another option is a saison. Saison is a wonderful style sometimes referred to as a farmhouse ale. Saison is not a style that sports a ton of availability. Some classics are Saison Dupont, Saison Silly, and some American versions: New Belgium Saison, and Ommegang Hennepin. These are crisp, occasionally strong fruity and spicy ales, that are again, pale and highly carbonated. The fruitiness of these beers can be described as lemony or orange-like. The spice character in these beers can be derived just from the yeast, or from the actual addition of spices like coriander, grains of paradise, star of anise, etc. Personally I was really impressed with New Belgium's Saison.

I would also like to suggest a few unique beers that are in the wild or sour category, but do not write off these beers by their classification. If you have a good bottle shop around you, also contemplate getting a Flanders Red (Rohdenbach Klassiek, Monk's Cafe Flanders Red, or Duchesse de Bourgogne), a Flanders Brown (Leifman's Goudenband - perhaps my desert island beer), or a Fruit Lambic (Boon Framboise, Leifman's Kriek, Cantillon Lou Pepe).

Pair your beer choices with a wide assortment of cheeses and mix and match your beers with them. Make 2012 they year you ring in the New Year with great beer.

Drink good beer with good people!

Twitter: @adammmills