12 Beers of Christmas 2016 Edition

12-Beers-of-Xmas

Happy holiday’s everyone! This marks year three of our annual 12 Beers of Christmas blog post where the team gives you recommendations of their favorite beers from 2016. This is a tradition that actually started from a now nine-year practice of doing a beer exchange in our office instead of cookies or Secret Santa. So for all you beer fans out there, here is the 2016 edition of the Shavlik 12 Beers of Christmas. Enjoy!

Brent, Software Engineer
Beer recommendation: Black Sheep Best Bitter
Style: Bitter
ABV: 3.8%
Description: Brent spent a bit of time across the pond this year after LANDESK acquired AppSense. “It was my nightly beer one trip to England during an AppSense visit. Very solid English bitter that paired well with any of the pub food.”

A well hopped, light golden session bitter with a distinctive, dry, refreshing taste enjoyed through a rich creamy head. Brewed in traditional cast iron and copper vessels using the finest ingredients.

Mark, Software Engineer
Beer Recommendation: Able BLK WLF Stout
Style: Stout
ABV: 3.8
IBU: 32
Description: It is a coffee forward stout with a satisfying finish. The best part is since it as a low ABV at 3.8%, I can have a few without having to rely on my friends to carry me home.

Clear dark brown, large creamy tan head, good retention. Aroma of chocolate, roasted malts, piney hops. The taste is citrus, roasted malts, chocolate. Medium bodied, lingering bitterness.

Neil, Manager, Territory Sales
Beer Recommendation: Weihenstephaner Original
Style: Helles
ABV: 5.1%
IBU: 21
Description: A cheeky little number from the oldest brewery in the world. Not sure if you can get this in the US but the brewery is a 15 minute drive from Munich airport. It is worth the trip!!

A good beer takes its time. The long storage makes our yellow bright lager, “Original”, a flavourful beer enjoyed with fine poured, white foam. With a mild hoppy note and its pleasant fresh spicy taste, it goes very well with salads, poultry, stews or with a hearty snack. Brewed according to our centuries-old brewing tradition on the Weihenstephan hill.

Robert, Senior Product Marketing Manager 
Beer Recommendation: Samuel Adams Nitro White Ale
Style: Witbier
ABV: 5.5%
IBU: 15
Description: From America’s largest Craft Brewer, and from the city (Boston) known for more than just the revolution of craft beer. This beer is smooth as silk, refreshingly cold, and a joy to consume year round. Crisp enough for the Summer, hearty enough to keep you warm in Winter. I enjoyed this guy while watching summer sunsets over Lake Winnipesaukee in NH this past summer.

Brad, Software Engineer
Beer Recommendation: Fitger’s Big Boat Oatmeal Stout
Style: Stout – Oatmeal
ABV: 6.6%
IBU: 45
Description: Good stout, nice chocolate and coffee combination for sipping on MN winter days.  Enough alcohol to keep you warm and toasty on the inside but not stumble out of the bar and die from hypothermia when you slip and fall on the ice.

Simon, Chief Technologist
Beer Recommendation: Peroni Original
Style: Lager – Pale
ABV: 4.7%
Description:  Served at Ultra cold temperature and great for the British summer when we get them. Added benefit is that it doesn’t seem to cause those dreadful headaches I seem to get more of as I get older. The downside is that its currently one of the most expensive you can buy.

Ken, QA Director
Beer recommendation: Surly Gose (pronounced “Go-zuh”)
Style: Kettle Sour Ale
ABV: 5.3%
Description:  Just had this at the brewery during our holiday party.  A great sour beer with a crisp taste with little surprise extra tartness in the end.  Pairs extremely well with co-workers.

The base beer for our series of kettle souref ales, surly Gose had has a light, crisp body with a refreshing tartness and a fleeting saltiness.

Randy, Manager, Software Engineering
Beer Recommendation:
Style: IPA
ABV: 7%
IBU: 74
Description: I’m going to put in my official favorite for the year as Fulton Batch 300.  I’m not sure how widely available it is, but it is a fantastic West Coast style IPA brewed right here in Minneapolis.  Like many great beers, it was originally a limited edition but was so popular they decided to brew it year-round.  It is very hoppy, but has a nice balance and smooth finish.

Batch 300 is built on a base of Weyermann Pilsner malt, and heavily hopped from start to finish with Mosaic, one of our favorite American hop varieties. At 74 IBU and just under 7% ABV, Batch 300 will delight your palate without wearing it out.

Frank, Software Engineer
Beer Recommendation:
Style: Porter – Peanut Butter
ABV: 5.3%
Description: Smells like peanuts, tastes likes peanuts and beer.  When you want a peanut butter sandwich and you also want a beer, but you can’t be bothered to get both: this is the beer for you.  Dark color with a nice full head.  Really good on nitro if you can get it.

Brian, QA Engineer
Beer Recommendation: Ballast Point Grapefruit Sculpin
Style: American IPA
ABV: 7%
Description: Bright, citrusy IPAs are becoming increasingly common and I am not complaining. The Sculpin IPA is hopped at five separate stages and has notes of apricot, peach, mango, and lemon. This award winning IPA is then complimented with grapefruit, creating a flavorful and surprisingly drinkable IPA. A perfect beer to compliment warm summer days or the bitter cold winters of Minnesota.

Derek, Manager, Cloud Operations
Beer Recommendation: Surly Darkness (2016)
Style: Imperial Stout
ABV: 9-12% (Depending on the year)
IBU: 85
Description: Knocks you on your a$$!

This massive Russian Imperial Stout brings waves of flavors; chocolate, cherries, raisins, coffee, and toffee. We add a touch of hops to make this delicious brew even tastier.

Chris, Manager, Product Management
Beer Recommendation: O’Town Triple
Style: Belgian Triple
ABV: 7.4%
IBU: 27
Description: From the fine brewer at Lamada Brewing comes fine example of a Belgian abbey style ale.  Not as dark as a St Bernardus ABT 12 or Chimay Grand Reserve.   Has a fruity aroma and complex flavors with a mix of malty, slightly bitter, and a fruity sweetness.  Actually this is my own home brew and a recipe I am continuing to perfect.  I just brewed batch three this fall and it should be ready to drink sometime around June!  Perfection takes time.  If you really want to try some you will have to come visit me in June.

Honorable Mentions:

Joe, Technical Writer
Beer Recommendation: Grain Belt Nordeast
Style: Amber Lager/Vienna
ABV: 4.7%
Description: For anyone wishing to experience some local Minnesota flavor, I highly recommend Grain Belt Nordeast. It’s a great tasting beer that meets my main requirements: it is reasonably priced and almost always available wherever I go. Unlike most of the other beers you’ll see on this list, there’s no need to take out a loan or drive 100 miles to an obscure liquor store to purchase it. And that makes Nordeast satisfying in a number of different ways.

John, Channel Account Manager
Beer Recommendation: George Killian’s Irish Red
Style: American Amber\Red Lager
ABV: 4.9%
IBU: 14
Description: A full and well-balanced American Amber / Red Lager style beer, and honestly, my go to if I’m hanging out with relatives or friends who don’t really enjoy craft beer and would rather depend on boring domestics.  Like an IPA, has a body more similar to a Scotch ale than a lager or porter, offering a blend of dark fruit, caramel, bread and toast swells in a tight bouquet. While it’s aroma is complex, it’s easy on the tongue.  A malt-forward profile flows across the palate with easy transitions:  Light bready malts pick up hints of toast, and then caramel and dark fruit as it washes back. A quiet bitterness counters the sweetness and guides this straightforward beer to a refreshingly clean finish.  Joyeaux Noël !

The Peanut Gallery (there is always a comedian in the bunch.  This year we have two.) :

Brian, QA Engineer (his first attempt that was rejected)
Beer Recommendation: Camo Black Ice High Gravity Lager
Style: Malt Liquor
ABV: 10.5%
Description: The Camo Beer Company in Lacrosse WI describes this beer as “Ice brewed for extra smooth taste”. This true star of the north is best served in a paper bag. At a size of 24 ounces, an ABV 10.5%, and a price around $2 it is truly a symbol of efficiency. Who needs hydration from six and a half 3.2 beers when you can fit the same punch into one fine paper bag?

Rob, VP Engineering (remember 2014 when he recommended Coors?  Yeah this one is worse)
Beer Recommendation: Hamms
Style: Pale Lager
ABV: 4.7%
Description: If it looks like a Coors, smells like a Coors, and tastes like a Coors then it must be a Coors….except it’s not. It’s Hamm’s American Lager and it doesn’t smell like Coors… in fact, it has no aroma at all.  But for days when you feel like punishing yourself, grab a can… or 48 of these.  This beer is very much a synthesizer of taste and takes on the taste of whatever you are pairing it with making it the perfect beer to pair with any meal that you like the taste of… be warned though, if you are using it to wash the taste of a burnt garlic meatloaf out of your mouth, all you have done is captured and amplified that tragic flavor.  I hear if you mix a little Mio in there though, you can work your way right past that.