Spread true cheer: Brew a beer for the holidays—get started now with our how-to help

November 12, 2008 | By | Comments (0)

As Team Beer’s brew guru and Sunset’s head gardener, Rick LaFrentz is a great guy to know—especially at this time of year.

Rick2_4
Yesterday afternoon, chatting about a seasonal beer from one of the
West’s many “local” breweries (more on this in a minute), he told me
about his latest concoction: a Trappist wheat that he’ll use to check
off his Christmas list.

“I’ll make sure you get one,” he said as my eyes lit up. Score!

Rick brewed and bottled his homemade gifts a few weeks ago, but if you, ahem, hop on it this weekend, there’s still time for you to squeak one out: an ale takes about five weeks, from kettle to bottle.

Just download (for free!) a PDF of Sunset’s Guide to Making Beer. You’ll get Rick’s handy checklist of equipment and his recommendation for where to buy reliably tasty kits. No growing or malting required—as Team Beer is learning, this takes approximately forever (malting Sunset’s own barley for a wheat ale is how Rick plans to spend Thanksgiving weekend).

What to make? Rick and I both gravitate toward “winter warmers” when the leaves change—their malty and often spicy goodness is a welcome treat for any beer fan. They’re served chilled, of course, but they’re still “warming” because of their higher-than-a-lighter-beer alcohol content.

Tenfidy_4Speaking of warmers, I just got my hands on an Imperial stout called Ten Fidy; that’s what’s delighting Rick’s nose in this photo: “I always like to sniff beer,” Rick said when I laughed at his connoisseur approach. “It’s got a lot going on.”

This seasonal offering from Oskar Blues (“the little brewery that cans” in Lyons, Colorado) is a delight for dark-beer fiends. Hoppy yet not bitter, this chocolate factory has a decadent Champagne feel that would make those Imperial Russian czars proud. Yum. SoCal readers, you can share in Colorado’s joy: Ten Fidy is now available near you.

If you don’t have time to brew up a winter warmer of your own (really? this Imperial stout kit looks mighty good), you could always pick one up on your way to a holiday open house.

In terms of hostess gifts, I love Team Wine, but defecting to Team Beer clearly would have some benefits (hello, shorter fermentation times!).

Maybe I should apply for dual citizenship.

COMMENTS

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s