Whether you are hosting your own party and need to stock up on supplies, or you plan to grab a beverage for a friend’s gathering, beer can be a fantastic alternative to wine or champagne when it comes time to ring in 2011.
There are hundreds of beers available locally that would be a great selection for any NYE party, or to open while you enjoy a quiet dinner at home. Following are just a few selections. Some of these you’ll have to visit a local specialty bottle shop for (see list below), others you can find at your local grocer in six-packs.
To Enjoy Throughout the Evening:
Sierra Nevada Celebration – I just can’t get enough of this beer this year. This special IPA from Sierra Nevada is brewed each year for the holiday season with the 1st batch of dried hops received from the hop harvest. It has a solid caramel malt base to mix with pine and citrus hop flavors. At 6.8% ABV, it might catch up to you after a while, but it is something that hop-heads can drink all night long.
Kona Pipeline Porter – This is another one of my favorite seasonal six-pack beers. Hawaii’s Kona Brewing Company uses 100% Kona coffee to give this smooth, roasty porter a kick of coffee flavor. It’s not overwhelming, but that’s what makes it such a great six-pack beer. At only 5.3% ABV you can feel good about throwing back a few of these throughout the night.
Perfect for the Midnight Toast:
Deus Brut des Flandres – Forget Miller High Life – Deus is truly the “Champagne of Beer”. Brut is brewed in Belgium by the Bosteels Brewery, and it is then transferred to the Champagne region of France, where it is placed in caves for twelve months to mature in a similar fashion to true champagne. The resulting 11.5% ABV beer is literally a mix between a strong Belgian golden ale and a bottle of champagne. It’s smooth and refreshing, and some guests would have no idea you were serving them beer.
Girardin Gueuze Black Label – Gueuze is a type of lambic – a style that is only brewed in Belgium with the help of wild yeast. The result is slightly cider-like with a complex sourness, a dose of citrus and heavy carbonation. If you have never tried a Gueuze, this could change your perception of beer forever.
Orval Trappist Ale – Orval is the world renowned beer produced at the monastery of the same name located in South-eastern Belgium since the 1930’s. It mixes flavors of citrus, spicy hops and yeast for a vibrant experience. The unique aroma and taste are largely due to the beer being dry-hopped. A glass of Orval is truly a masterpiece.
Cascade Apricot Ale – This sour ale brewed by Portland’s Cascade Brewing undergoes lactic fermentation and is then aged in oak barrels for almost a year and fermented with fresh northwest apricots. The result is an intense fresh apricot flavor that is light for its 8.5% ABV. It isn’t overly sour, it just has a nice tartness to go along with the apricot flavor. It might be a bit difficult to find in Seattle area stores right now, but I know some stores got it in recently. If you can’t find this, anything you find from Cascade is a fine substitution.
The After Party Nightcap:
Hair of the Dog Doggie Claws – The Hair of the Dog Brewing Company, located in Portland, has a knack for making big, high alcohol beers packed with flavor. This barley wine offers a complex mixture of roasted malt, dark fruit (think dates), sweet caramel and lots of herbal hops. The result is a pretty special beer from one of the best local NW breweries around. Buy extra – this 10.5% alcohol beer is great now, but it only gets better with age.
Deschutes The Abyss – This 11% ABV imperial stout recently hit shelves and is a great special-occasion beer. Big flavors of chocolate and coffee mix with roasted malt and a little salty licorice. It’s moderately sweet and is deceptively smooth for such a big beer. There are quite a few bottles of this on retailers shelves this year. If your local bottle shop is out, try just about any grocery store; even my Red Apple Market in Beacon Hill has bottles of it this year.
Check out the following Seattle area bottle shops to find these and other great beers for NYE.
Seattle Area Beer Retailers