Fremont – Head Full of Dynomite – Hazy IPA, 6.8%
Though their calling-cards remain aroma-heavy West Coast IPAs and burly, exquisite barrel-aged stouts, Fremont Brewing in Seattle in recent years explored the possibilities within the hazy IPA category. Their Head Full of Dynomite [sic] series, despite the deliberately strange spelling-conventions, keep a protein-heavy malt base while coming up with new permutations of hop-blends. A new iteration lands every eight weeks or so, and the 24th in the sequence makes a veritable hop salad with Centennial, Comet, Idaho 7 Cryo and the mysterious Sorachi Ace.
Heater Allen – Sandy Paws – Baltic Porter, 7.1%
Every year as winter approaches, the lager-fanatics at Heater Allen brew another batch of their beloved Sandy Paws. The advantage to this often-overlooked style is the perception of roast without undue bitterness or acidity, with a clean finish. Unlike some annual releases, the recipe changes subtly from year to year – yet always remains a stronger black lager. The can-art too is specific to the year, with the photograph of a different cat or dog on the label. These are real animals, the pets of friends and fans of Heater Allen! The 2020 Sandy Paws features “Jacob The Wonder Hop Dog”, whose visage faces the viewer nose-first, filling the frame.
St. Bernardus – Christmas Ale – Belgian Winter Ale, 10%
With its signature cheerful monk cheerfully sporting a Santa hat, the Christmas Ale from St. Bernardus announces a festive demeanor immediately. The (secular) brewery located in Western Flanders has caché, having worked for a long time with the famed Westvleteren Trappist abbey the next town over. Based on their immensely popular Abt 12, a pitch-perfect quad by style, the Christmas Ale has a touch of spicing from their expressive estery yeast. A true Belgian winter warmer – available these days not only in the classic impressive 750ml cork-and-cage bottles, but also in more serving-size-friendly 330mls. Happy holidays!