I love holiday beer. I love anything that reminds me of Christmas, of course, so if you throw some nutmeg into a brew and give it to me, I’ll probably dig it. BevMo threw a nice party at Fort Mason with their holiday beer festival. It wasn’t too crowded, since it wasn’t a well-advertised event (wanna bet that’ll change next year) and there was a great variety of breweries there–all for just $35.
My personal favorite was the Scaldis Noelfrom Brasserie Dubuisson. It was rich and spicy, sweet but not syrupy. The Wee Heavyfrom Belhaven was another that I really enjoyed. I usually enjoy Scottish ales, and this was an extra special version of one.
My biggest disappointment was the Pecan Harvest Ale from Abita. I’ve liked Abita’s beers in the past, but this one failed in a massive way. Not only was there no pecan taste (or maybe that funky aftertaste was supposed to be pecan) but the beer as a whole was not anything I’d ever like to drink again.
We have been to a lot of beer festivals at Fort Mason. And while some good beer as been drunk at all of them, overall it usually ends in Jasmine crying and us either getting bumped by dumb drunk revelers or almost getting hit with vomit from a girl in a party dress. Thankfully at the BevMo holiday party none of that happened. It was rather well run. There was a good selection of beer, plenty of it, and not too many people (until the end). I could have used another 30 minutes, though that would have probably made it a bit more messy at the end.
One of my favorites was the Black Xantus from Firestone Walker (under the Nectar Ales label). What a beer! So much flavor and depth – it really just knocked me back. A big stout with roasted coffee, bourbon heat, some oak, and yet still pretty drinkable for around 11% abv. Got to try some beer from a few breweries I had never had before. The best by far was Grand Teton Brewery from Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Their beer was consistently good and they brought a lot of it. Each time I wanted to try a new one, I would ask for a small pour (there were a lot of beers!) and each time they would give me a big cup. They had a nice hoppy red ale called Pursuit of Hoppiness Double Red Ale – it was a fine beer – and luckily we can get it now in the bay area. Buckbean brewery from Reno was there. I have had Black Noddy once – but this was the first time I have tried their Orange Blossom. It was better then expected. And it was nice to see that one of the founders was there to talk to people coming up for samples.
Some of the usual beer festival breweries were there. Dogfish Head had Festina Pesch which I always like. Sam Adams was there with pretty much every single beer they have. The new coastal wheat was OK – nothing special. The Anchor booth was manned by a nice Grandpa-type man. He looked deep into my eyes when he handed me a posted looking to see if I cared enough for it. The new holiday beer was being poured. I liked it – a bit lighter then last years with a little less pine and sumac and a little more date and honey. Allagash was there and while I had tasted everything they brought before, I still sneaked a few tastes. Shipyard was there next to Allagash, Maine brother in arms. Their XXXX IPA was pretty awesome.
Of course this is just a few of the beers we had. Some were a blur. Some we can easily get in the Bay Area, while others were specials brought just for the festival. Thank you BevMo for throwing a good party, hopefully you don’t mess it up next year. And thankfully this is just the start of Holiday beer season.
Oh and this is the coolest t-shirt there – I need one:
Check out more pics here.