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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Lompoc Launches 2013 Winter Seasonal Barrage

Winter seasonals are nothing new around here. Breweries have been brewing them for years and it's part of what's expected. But no one showcases as many winter seasonals as Lompoc Brewing. Jerry Fechter and his brewers regularly provide a wide swath of holiday beers. And proud of that tradition, they are.

Not sure what Don would think of the poinsettia
There are nine Lompoc holiday beers for 2013 and eight of them were on display at a media tasting Monday night at Sidebar. This is always a fun event, as the Lompoc folks roll out the red rug for those of us who attempt to cover Portland's beer scene. Last night was no exception, held as the ghost of Don Younger looked on (courtesy of John Foyston's great painting).

The beer list is familiar....C-Sons Greetings, Old Tavern Rat, Brewdolph, etc. There is no 8 Malty Nights for 2013, which will miff some beer fans, but you can't have everything. Still, it's a nice lineup of beers. The bulk of these will be released on Dec. 3 at Lompoc locations. I'll speak to the specific details below.

One of my favorite Lompoc beers is C-Sons Greetings, an Imperial IPA brewed with seven "C" hops and packing a serious wallop in aroma and flavor. This is essentially a bigger version of their standard IPA, C-Note, and clocks in at 8% ABV. The label no longer sports Jerry's graphic likeness in a Santa hat, but you'll get over it. C-Sons Greetings will be in pubs and on store shelves soon. Look for it.

Kids explain what they're up to
We tasted two versions of Old Tavern Rat, a barleywine affectionately named after the late publican, Don Younger, who is pictured on the label. The 2013 OTR is fairly straight forward beer...big, fairly smooth, not all that complex. It clocks in at 9.4%. This beer will be poured in pubs, but there will be no bottles.

Up next beer was a bourbon barrel aged version of 2011 OTR. This beer sent my nasal passages into arrest. The press materials say this beer is 9.7%, but it seems to have sucked some serious alcohol from the barrels. I bet it's closer to 12%. Anyway, barrel-aged OTR is a little rough right now. It will surely improve with some cellaring. They will have this on draft and in bottles (very limited) at their pubs. I recommend tasting it now and getting a bottle or two for future reference.

Lompoc's beer for the upcoming Holiday Ale Festival is Revelry Red, which is their Big Bang Red aged in whiskey barrels with sour cherries for nine months, then blended with Big Bang Red aged in Port barrels for nearly a year. This beer was on double secret probation because the HAF prefers that its beers not be tasted prior to the event. No matter. This beer is fantastic...mildly sour, gently complex. There is still blending to be done, so the final result will change. Seek this beer! They will evidently hold onto some of this to be served in their pubs after the HAF.

Tools of a tasting
There are five more Lompoc winter brews worth tasting, including Cherry Christmas, Jolly Bock (lager), Brewdolph (Belgian-style red), Holiday Cheer (Vanilla Porter) and Blitzen (a spiced golden ale we didn't taste). As noted above, you'll find all of these at Lompoc locations beginning on Dec. 3. 

Special thanks to Jerry Fechter for continuing to placate us beer media folks. Similar thanks to Chris Crabb, who routinely does a great job of organizing materials for lazy, sometimes disorganized media folks. Finally, a shout out to Lompoc brewers Bryan Keilty, Irena Bierzynski (a better brewer name does not exist) and Grant Golden, who hung out to talk about their beers.

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