by SARAH MARIE BECK
If you live in Fort Collins, two things are likely of importance to you: outdoor sports under the intensely blue Colorado sky and good craft beer. In the winter, especially during the holidays, free time and daylight become precious commodities. You need to go shopping for gifts, but you want to play outside and drink amazing winter seasonals instead.
You can’t shop with a beer. (One friend, who is not me, tried.) Shopping sans beer is unfortunate for everyone because after sipping Horse and Dragon’s Bothy Bourbon Barrel Aged Stout and the Serenade Tart Cherry Brown, I want to buy everyone a present because it tastes like a Christmas Miracle. The Bothy is an incredibly balanced and smooth stout with a caramel and toasted nut flavor, and a hint of bitterness that is reminiscent of a good dark chocolate.
The Serenade comes correct. The tart pie cherry (not cherry pie) flavor is authentic and takes me back to my childhood, climbing cherry trees with my sister, eating and picking the tart cherries until our hands and arms were red and sticky with juice. The malt of this brown beer perfectly balances the tartness of the cherry. Right before your lips are about to pucker, the malt floats in on your palette saving the day. Alternate sips of Bothy and Serenade, its liquid Black Forrest Cake. Pure holiday magic.
Isolation Ale from Odell:
Caramel malty-ness adds warmth but it’s still refreshing, thanks to the hops at the finish. Crisp like the crunch of first tracks in deep snow, Après perfection for the paradox of it’s freezing outside, but you have been sweatin’ it up all day. Speaking of Après activities, take the bottle caps from your Isolation six-pack, paint the top with chalkboard paint, hot glue some twine or jewelry wire to the inside of the cap and you have a recycled and reusable glass label. Perfect for flights and knowing what beer belongs to whom, a gift for the beer lover.
Old Jubilation from Avery Brewing:
This beer could only be more “Christmas” if it was handed to you by an elf. The can depicts a delightful sleigh ride, the ale itself is a deep red, and it has a hint of hazelnut, but no cliché holiday spice. A choir of five malts gives it a harmonious complexity.
Winter Warmer from Equinox Brewing:
The flavor evolves with temperature, like a slow motion flambé. The first sip (if it’s the coldest) has a prominent dried apricot and plum flavor. As the beer warms, the fruit fades letting the malt and oak shine. The finish reminds you that this barleywine style ale is 10% ABV as you taste and feel the warmth. While sipping, you can create a gift that embodies this beer; take ten bottle caps and paint the moon phases. Glue vertically and in order to string and voilà! Wall art for a beer and lunar lover.