Holiday Brew!

Posted on December 1, 2009 – 2:47 PM | by OldManFoster
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By Niki Kangas   photos by Jesse Vasquez

December’s here and it’s beer:30. The onslaught of indulgences during the holidays is so welcome after what seems to have been, for all the folks I know, a trying year. Beyond having more downtime with self, friends and family than usual, this season cheerfully provides many an opportunity for luxuries and immoderation, and in our splurging we all emerge from December kinda hung over, hella broke, and five to ten pounds heavier, and yet, happier and refreshed for the clean slate of the new year.

Local breweries get into the spirit of decadence too, and release extra special hearty fermented gifts for beer enthusiasts to treat their taste buds with in the cold heart of winter. Seasonal and locally-sourced products benefit our environment and community, so if you’re going to dabble in some December drinking, do try a little taste of these unique beers some of our neighboring brewmasters are bestowing upon us at nearby brewpubs, coffee houses markets and restaurants. And please don’t forget to designate a driver- let Shane MacGowan spend Christmas Eve in the drunk tank for the rest of us.

Before I delve into the myriad of beer blessings in the river city, I’d like to nod to a comrade lost in October, Sacramento Brewing Company. Good businesses are dropping like flies in this furloughed and unemployed town- I’d joked earlier in the year that at least bars and breweries were recession-proof, but apparently no local gem is. That said, all the more reason to support these homegrown breweries this winter when you prepare to sip on a cold one.

Rubicon Brewing Co.
Ol’ Moe’s Porter, Hop Sauce Double IPA, and Winter Wheatwine

The Rubicon

The Rubicon

Rubicon’s IPA is always a joy, but in December they have three seasonals to be tried in lieu of the ol’ standby. First, there’s the chocolatey, malty West coast style porter, named for the first Rubicon brewmaster, Phil Moeller. It’s a sturdy 7.5% alc./vol. Then there’s Rubicon’s Hop Sauce, a double IPA with a citrus and pine aroma and a spicy, hoppy flavor that will kick your butt as a good winter beer should at 8.5% alc./vol. The Winter Wheatwine, lastly, is an old friend to Sacramento, brewed in Midtown since 1988. It has won gold and silver medals at the Great American Beer Festival and a gold at the World Beer Cup, so although not technically out til mid-January, it’s definitely worth a mention.

River City Brewing Co.
Doppelbock, Belgian Triple

I rarely hit the mall, so on a recent visit to Downtown Plaza I was stunned to find that it’s been reduced to a depressing ghost town of a few leftover urban wear and cell phone stores. Two reasons remain to visit: the movie theater and River City Brewing Co. Every Black Friday, they release their annual Doppelbock, a super-malty, dark red and sweet lager with a 7.8% alc./vol. kick. Their second holiday seasonal brew is the Belgian Triple, a light, spicy, and fresh tasting Trappist ale that sneaks up on you at 8.5% alc./vol.

Hoppy Brewing Co.
Hoppy Claus Ale

Just beyond Midtown, East Sac plays host to another brewpub- Folsom Blvd’s Hoppy Brewing. Their seasonal contribution to the regional beer list is a spiced version of their flagship product, the Hoppy Face Amber Ale. An undisclosed combination of holiday spices, two-row malted barley and Pacific Northwest hops produces a crisp and unique beer befitting the season.

Two Rivers Cider Co.
Gravenstein, Granny Smith, and Cranberry Ciders

two_riverswebVincent Sterne has been perfecting his work since 1996, and his 2009 winter offerings are gravenstein and granny smith hard apple ciders, plus a cranberry cider that is making my mouth water just typing about it. Onespeed, Waterboy, Mulvaney’s B&L and Magpie, are all surefire spots to imbibe Vince’s genius with a comparably seasonal, local meal.

Brew It Up!
(Your brew name here)

Sacramento is pretty cool, guys; we’re not San Francisco’s ugly stepsister, but more like her less-hot-but-nonetheless-foxy stepsister, and we should be thankful that not only do we have a generous dose of quality independent brewpubs, but a spot where we can alternatively pay to be schooled in the craft of brewing and create our own unique beer submissions! Why not have a holiday party at Brew It Up! where you and your cohorts can brew one to your own tastes?

Sudwerk Brewing Co.
Doppel Bock

Davis is a bit out of the way, but it’s almost like an extension of Midtown, right?  Sudwerk makes great German style beers, and has an awesome patio so it’s definitely worth the quick trek. On November 1st and through mid-January (or til it runs out) they are serving up their limited release Doppel Bock, which is the strongest brew they make at 8.0% alc./vol. It’s a full-bodied deep red, hinting at chocolate and toasted malts.

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