Friday, December 27, 2013

Thank You!

As it turns out, surprisingly enough, I must have been pretty good this year! In addition to some other really awesome gifts, there seemed to be a theme amongst my family this year, and it's definitely a theme that I am happy with....Beer!

This year's Christmas was filled with all things beer. From beer itself; Cabin Fever, India Brown, Brother Thelonious, and an amazing bottle of Gulden Draak Brewmaster Reserve. To Books about beer, to glassware, and even bottle openers. I also got a subscription to Brew Your Own, and a gift card for Northern Brewer, so hopefully I'll get some brews going soon too.

Hopefully you all got some cool beer related gifts this holiday season. Let us know what kinds cool beer-y things you got this Christmas.


Thursday, December 26, 2013

Merry Beer-Mas!

Well, Christmas is finally here. We woke up early, opened gifts, drank some coffee, spent time with family, shared a meal, had some egg-nog, and were blessed to have spent some time with the ones we love. I was also blessed to finally crack open a bottle of my favorite Christmas beer.

December 25th

Mad Elf by Tröegs Brewing Company

This Belgian ale hails from Hershey, PA, and is all together delicious. A vibrant red colored 11% ABV beer that tastes fantastic and not at all as strong as the high alcohol might suggest. Fragrant and complex honey and cherries fill out the flavor of this beer and when you drink it, it puts you in the Christmas spirit! Let this one warm gently a few minutes out of the fridge to capture all of the wonderful flavors and aromas.

One of the great things about this past week of Beer-Mas was that I got to share a few of these beers with some of my favorite people in the world.  Hopefully you all got to share some special beers and with friends and family too.

Well, that's going to wrap it up for Beer-Mas 2013. I had a great time documenting my countdown to Christmas with you all, and thank you for taking the time for checking out this adventure! Drop me a line and let me know what special brews you got into this holiday season!


Wednesday, December 25, 2013

'Twas the Night Before Beer-Mas

And all through the house, a growler from Rochester was providing some holiday cheer.

December 24th

Kacey's Kristmas Ale by Rohrbach Brewing Company

Before departing Rochester for the holidays, I picked up a growler of a local Christmas ale to bring home with us. Kacey's Kristmas ale is unique in the Christmas beer world in that it's a pretty session-able brew at only 4.5% ABV. A red tinted brown ale with very subtle cherries, with notes of chocolate, and a tiny bit of hop bitterness. It's one of the beers that has a nice complexity without a knockout high ABV.

I took this to serve at a family Christmas gathering, and it had a pretty good reception from the people in attendance. It was nice seeing a growler of craft beer alongside the wine at our dinner. 

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas eve with family, friends, and good beers.


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

A Very Trappist Beer-Mas

Some beers move beyond simply being a Christmas beer, and find themselves as something much more than that. And that's what the monks at the Notre-Dame de Scourmont Abbey have been able to achieve.

December 23rd

Chimay Grand Reserve (Chimay Blue) by Chimay 

Chimay began producing beers in 1862 and brewed a special Christmas beer in 1948. This beer would eventually become Chimay Blue. This Belgian Dark Strong Ale has all of the complexities you expect from a Trappist beer, finishing dry, it's perfect in every way. There is something incredibly special about uncorking a bottle of this beer any time of the year, but it becomes more special at Christmas time when this beer was originally intended to be drank. Not only is this one of my favorite Christmas beers, it's one of my favorite beers. 

A touch of caramel, 9% ABV, and a luscious foamy head that clings to the top of your glass as you sip this beer. I highly suggest trying this if you've never had it, and if you have experienced it, I suggest you try it again. Now available year-round, you can get bottles of this almost anywhere you are, but it's a little more special this week. 

Santé! (Cheers in Flemish)

Gather around for Beer-Mas

Tonight's can (yep, another can) of Beer-Mas traveled all the way from San Francisco. It was a late addition to the Beer-Mas line-up because I just found it here in Ohio, but I'm really glad I picked it up to try

December 22nd

Fireside Chat by 21st Amendment Brewery


This Winter Spiced Ale was a pleasure to sip as we sat around the Christmas tree. Lots of chocolate in this deep brown and highly carbonated brew. Spicy and delicious, with no harshness from the 7.9% ABV. Being canned, it retained much of its freshness and was a perfect addition to Beer-Mas.


Monday, December 23, 2013

A Very Merry Beer-Mas

Today's beer has a great label and a fantastic flavor. Settling in for the evening, my wife and I were sharing a piece of peanut butter pie and I thought to myself..."Self, you know what beer we need to open up for today's Beer-Mas?" So I went downstairs and grabbed the bottle.

December 21st

Merry Maker by Samuel Adams

After having the Fat Jack pumpkin beer this fall, I knew I needed to try this small batch seasonal brew when I saw it at the local bottle shop. The Merry Maker is a Gingerbread Stout coming in at 9% ABV. This beer sounds and looks awesome. The picture of the sledding gingerbread men, the aromas of chocolate, coffee, and cinnamon as you pour it, the dark rich color. The beer was fantastic, hitting all the notes of a well done stout and a well done gingerbread cookie. It paired perfectly with that piece of peanut butter pie.

Hopefully you are all getting to eat and drink something special this holiday season.


Sunday, December 22, 2013

Checking his Beer-Mas List

And checking it twice. Today we wrapped up a few more presents, loaded up the sleigh, and drove down to Columbus, Ohio for a visit with my brother and his family. After some beautiful singing by our niece at her pre-school Christmas pageant, my brother and I stopped by a newly opened bottle shop just around the corner from his house. Crafted Drafts is a place I'm sure I'll be stopping by again next time we visit the family.

Once we got home and the kids were put to bed, it was time to check in with Santa

December 20

Santa's Private Reserve by Rogue Ales 

This Christmas classic is a double hopped amber beauty of a beer. Notes of spruce trees in the crisp hoppy finish. I didn't remember it being so hoppy, but it serves a beautiful contrast to many of the sweeter Christmas beers.

Winning tons of medals at various competitions, this beer is a great one to have with family and friends during the holiday season. Remember Santa's still watching!


Thursday, December 19, 2013

Beer-Mas reporting live from Ohio

Well, we survived the trip home to Ohio. Got the car unloaded and spent some time with family before it was time for the next installment of Beer-Mas. And when you are in Ohio, there's only one logical choice.

December 19th

Christmas Ale by Great Lakes Brewing Company

A beautiful amber color, brewed with with honey, ginger, and cinnamon. This beer boasts numerous awards and always seems to be in Christmas beers top-10 lists. I always feel like this beer is a little different each year which makes it extra special for us Ohioans. 

I hope everyone has safe travels wherever you are headed this winter. Crack open some Great Lakes Christmas Ale if you get a chance. You won't be sorry. 


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Beer-Mas is heading home for the Holidays!

Well, it's about that time when we pack up the car and head out to visit our loved ones for the holidays. We're heading back to Ohio tomorrow, so this will be my last 2013 Beer-Mas in Rochester (or will it?)

Today's beer takes us south-east to Easton, PA and a brewery who I'm fairly certain create some of the most well-done labels in craft beer.

December 18th

Winter Ale by Wyerbacher

This beer was a lot darker than I expected it to be when I was pouring it. Lots of chocolate malt give this a roasty taste and a nice chocolate aroma, though I don't get much chocolate flavor in the mouth. A smooth 5.6% ABV gives it just a little extra kick than in a typical dark ale.

As a huge fan of craft beer and a huge fan of cooking, you may have noticed that I'm a very big fan of recipes involving my favorite beers, and Wyerbacher does not disappoint. Winter Ale Caramelized Walnuts with Bacon sounds like it could be the most amazing thing ever! Unfortunately I'll have to settle for the beer alone tonight as we finish wrapping and pack up the car.

Beer-Mas will resume once we hit beautiful, sunny Ohio. Until then, Cheers!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Beer-Mas is sitting a Mile High

Tonight's Beer-Mas beer comes from a place I was lucky enough to have visited a few months back. When the wife and I headed out west to a wedding in Aspen, I knew that there were a few stops that I needed to make on our night in Denver.

December 17th

Christmas Ale by Breckenridge Brewing

Celebrating the 21st year of their Christmas Ale, this years American Strong Ale is brilliantly clear and has a subtle hop aroma with a distinct caramel-y sweetness. Coming in at 7.4%, it's strong enough to cut through even the most bitter of nights.

When checking out some more info on this beer, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the beer description on Breckenridge's website is accompanied by a recipe. Check it out here: Christmas Ale Pork Chops. At their brew pub I had a bison reuben which was amazing, so I'm guessing these pork chops aren't too bad either!


Monday, December 16, 2013

From Keuka Lake to Beer-Mas

Today while running a few errands I decided it was time to pay another visit to AJ's Beer Warehouse and pick up a few things. I love stopping in and checking out all the bottles, what's new, and talking beer.

One of the beers they had on tap I was excited to try, because I've heard good things about this brewery from friends, but haven't had the opportunity to check them out yet.

December 16th

Winter Spice Ale by Keuka Brewing Company

This beer has a nice malty flavor with a good balance of spice. Subtle enough to not overpower the brew, but definitely noticeable. A great addition to a growing number of Fingerlakes Breweries.

I'm glad I finally got a chance to try out one of their beers, now I just need to stop by the next time the wife takes me wine tasting!

Hope everyone out there had the chance to try something new tonight. Drink Local!


December 15th Beer-Mas

December 15th was a very busy day at the Malone house. It started with a trip to Target for some gifts and wrapping paper, followed by a stop at the grocery store to load up on ingredients for a day full of cookie making. Don't worry though, before any cookies were put in the oven, I set out to find the next beer for Beer-Mas.

December 15th

Winer Ale by Captain Lawrence Brewing Company

A dark copper and richly malty beer. Captain Lawrence calls on their secret blend of spices to give their annual Winter Ale a little something extra. What is in the secret blend? We can't be sure, but I tasted a lot of cinnamon and nutmeg while I was sipping this beer and looking out at the foot of snow that had fallen on us.

A bit over spiced for me, but it was a great way to start a day of tasting all the cookies my wife was busy baking!


Sunday, December 15, 2013

Winter Storm Warnings - Beer-Mas Plows Ahead

Yesterday was a pretty crazy day. After fighting the crowds early at the mall to finish up some Christmas shopping, we got home just the snow was really starting to come down. With the fire going and the Mrs. wrapping gifts I cracked open my next bottle of Beer-Mas.

December 14th

BiFrost Winter Ale by Elysian Brewing Company

Elysian calls this a strong Pale Ale, and at 7.6% ABV I'd have to agree with them. A very clean tasting and clean looking golden brew with subtle fruit and caramel flavors. This beer definitely put me into the Christmas spirit as I watched 10 inches of the white stuff fall outside.

I'd also like to raise a glass to my brother who celebrated his first of I'm sure many 39th birthdays! Happy Birthday Brother!

Hope everyone stayed safe and out of the snow, and if you didn't get any snow where you are, then even better!


Saturday, December 14, 2013

Another night in Kalamazoo for Beer-Mas

So, on this night, I decided to stay with the same company that brought us yesterdays Beer-Mas offering

December 13th

Christmas Ale by Bell's Brewery

Quite different than the Winter White Ale, the Christmas Ale is much darker, roastier, with flavors of toffee. Using a special malted barley that comes wholly from Michigan, they can get all of these flavors without adding any additional spices.

At 5.5% ABV, this winter offering would be perfect any time of the day. Give it a try if Bell's can be found near you.


Friday, December 13, 2013


It's a wonderful thing when beer shows up on at your front door, and that's what happened to me today.

A few months back, my wife got me a membership to The Original Craft Beer Club, and the UPS man trekked through the snow to bring it to me.

This month brought me 4 new beers to try, and they all sound pretty great. Two of the beers are from Elysian Brewing out of Seattle, WA and the other 2 are from Sierra Blanca Brewing out of Moriarty, NM.

Elysian Brewing was founded in 1995, and the two brews I got from them is the Loser Pale Ale, and the Bifrost Winter Ale (Looks like we found a late add-on to Beer-Mas!)

Sierra Blanca Brewing was founded just a year later in 1996, and the two beers I received are the Roswell Alien Amber Ale and their Nut Brown which has taken a gold medal at the GABF. (Great American Beer Festival)

Hopefully you all found something good at your doorstep today too.


Beer-Mas is getting snowier

I'm not sure if there is snow on the ground in Kalamazoo, MI, but as the snow is falling here in Rochester, it's definitely starting to put me into the Christmas spirit. (All of these Christmas beers aren't hurting either!) The next beer in our list takes it's cue from the white stuff.

December 12th

Winter White Ale by Bell's Brewery

Bell's has only recently distributed to this area of the country, and I couldn't be happier for it. They make some fantastic beers, and this one is no exception.

Not what you might normally think of when you picture a winter-time beer, this one is based loosely on a Belgian Wit Bier. A light, crisp, beer with some fruity notes is a nice contrast to the seasons heavier food and drink.

Give this refreshing beer a try after shoveling all that snow from your driveway and sidewalks.


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow for Beer-Mas

It's that time of year when Lake Erie and Lake Ontario combine forces to make everything beautiful for  a few days and everyone start counting down the days until spring. That's right, Lake Effect Snow, and we got some today (and probably a bunch more tonight!)

As being one of America's snowiest cities, it's safe to say that we get at least 2x more snow than most of the country. So with that in mind, I present you the next Beer-Mas brew!

December 11th

2XMAS by Southern Tier Brewing Company

Southern Tier calls this a double spiced ale brewed in the tradition of Swedish Glögg, but having never had any Glögg, I can't really speak to that. It's also suggested that you pair this with pickled herring, which I'm fresh out of. What I can say though is that this is a wholly complex, deep red, loaded with nutmeg and orange peel, super warming beer.

In only the second year for this beer, it's safe to say that Southern Tier is making a move to get in amongst some of the other Christmas Beer classics. A well done and fantastic addition to this years Beer-Mas.

Skål! (Cheers!)

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Coast to Coast for Beer-Mas

Yesterday, the beverage we enjoyed for Beer-Mas hailed from Portland, OR. Santa's sleigh made it all the way across the country to Westminster, MA for our next beer.

December 10th

Winter Ale by Wachusett Brewing Company

This Scotch Ale was first brewed in 1995. Highly malty with a bit of smokiness in the finish. A good clean taste without any of the spicing we've experienced in some of the other Beer-Mas offerings.

It's hard to say where Beer-Mas is headed next, but keep checking back to see what special brew is next on the list.


Monday, December 9, 2013

Beer-Mas is getting colder....Brrr!

Well, the weather is finally turning colder and they are calling for some snow over the next week, so today I turn to a holiday beer with a great name and the ability to warm you up on the coldest of nights.

December 9th

Brrr Seasonal Ale by Widmer Brothers

This higher alcohol (7.2%) red ale is a perfect holiday beer. Caramel flavors with just enough hop bitterness to keep the malt and the alcohol sweetness in line. It finishes smooth and warming, perfect for a cold night.

As I drink this, it's quickly becoming one of my favorites of the holiday beers I've had so far this Beer-Mas! I'd definitely check this one out if you can get it in your area.


A Beer-Mas Weekend

After visiting a few breweries in the Fingerlakes on Saturday, it was time to get back to the business at hand...Beer-Mas!

Deciding to stay with the theme of New York beers for the day, I settled upon a pretty great beer from a brewery that's just far enough away to have eluded a visit so far. Though, fear not, I'll be making the trip to Cooperstown soon enough.

December 7th

Adoration by Brewery Ommegang

This holiday inspired Belgian dark strong was the perfect companion to watching the MLS Cup final after a long day of driving through the Fingerlakes. I would have liked a little drier finish, but the flavors and complexity were fantastic.

Sunday started with a pretty lengthy run on the treadmill and then moved on to all things Christmas prep. A trip to Target for some gifts, Christmas cards, and the first of I'm sure many screenings of Elf, I was ready for my next beer.

December 8th

Christmas Ale (2011) by Goose Island Beer Co.

This annual release from Goose Island is like a few others on my list that changes every year. I'd love to tell you theres some significance about this being a bottle from 2011, but it just happened to be what they had at the bottle shop. Oh well, a little age led to some complexity, I just wish I would have had a few years to taste the difference.

Based on a brown ale (which happens to be one of my favorite styles) this beer was rich and malty. I'll look forward to trying different release years of this one in the future.

Hope everyone out there had a great weekend. Let me know what you were pouring!


Sunday, December 8, 2013

Driving along the Fingerlakes Beer Trail

One of my favorite things about living in Rochester, is how close we are to the Fingerlakes. Known mostly for their wines, the Fingerlakes is the second largest wine producing region in the country, the beer scene around these lakes is really heating up.

Yesterday, the Mrs. and I decided to head down to pick up some wines, so naturally I needed to find myself some beers. Our trip yesterday included a stop at a recently opened favorite of mine, a few samples at a grand opening of another brewery, and even a pint of FLX beer when we stopped for lunch/

Stop #1, Penn Yan, NY at Abandon Brewing Company

Abandon just celebrated their grand opening a few weeks ago, but this was already my 4th visit. I ordered a flight of samples, and a half-pint of the home-made root-beer for the Mrs. and got to tasting. I got two new brews from Abandon: A Walnut Brown Ale and their Black Friday Ale. I also tried Loopy by 3HB, a Rochester brewery, that they were serving on their guest tap. My 4th sample was their Saison which I'd had before but has a terrific taste, even on a cold winter day.

Our next stop was for lunch, so we headed up to Canandaigua, and stopped in at Rio Tomatlan for some lunch. The mexican food there was fantastic and so was my beer. I had a Wet Hopped Stout by Climbing Bines which is another brewery in Penn Yan. I've not gotten a chance to stop by and visit them, but if this first beer I had was any indication, they are onto something pretty good. The hops flavor vs. the roast characters in the stout were interesting and perfect with my spicy lunch.

After lunch we headed to our final stop, a new brewery that was having their grand openeing just up the street. A short walk to burn off my chips and salsa and we got to..

Stop #2 Canandaigua, NY at Twisted Rail Brewing

This small brewery, attached to an existing brew-pub had a full bar when we got there. Five beers on tap for the opening, I ordered a flight and tried 4 of their creations. Toasted Ale, Farmhouse Ale, Oatmeal Stout, and an IPA were the flavors of the day. I was very impressed with the Farmhouse Ale. A simple belgian inspired ale that would be great to have a few pints of after a long day. 

After a long day of driving and trying new beers it was time to head back home. Keep up the good work Abandon, and good luck and best wishes to Twisted Rail. Can't wait to start seeing you guys around town!


Friday, December 6, 2013

December 6th Beer-Mas

On the 6th of December I cracked open a can of Christmas goodness. The only one of the Christmas beers I've sat aside for my Beer-y advent calendar to come in a can.

December 6th

Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale by Anderson Valley Brewing Company

This beer has a fantastic mouthfeel and complexity without being overdone. I'm getting a lot of malt, some cinnamon, a bit of caramel and a sweet finish that leaves me ready for another drink.

Besides coming in a can, which is awesome, my other favorite thing about Anderson Valley is their logo, which is part bear, part deer, which gives you a beer! And as a fan of corny jokes, I think it's brilliant!


On the 5th day of Beer-Mas....

The 5th day of Beer-Mas is an extra special day in the Christmas beer calendar, the day that Prohibition was ended via the 21st Amendment.

On a special day like today, I decided to look at our craft brewing history, and I could only come to one choice.

December 5th

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year (Our Special Ale) 2013 by Anchor Brewing Company

As America's oldest craft brewery, a beer from Anchor seemed like the natural choice for 21st Amendment Day.

The beer itself was nice, full bodied but had a bit of an odd taste up front. Very piney, not in a hop-pine type of flavor, but more of a spruce tree kind of flavor. Problem is, is we'll never know what this flavor might have been, because their recipe for this brew changes each year, and that recipe is top secret.

One of the really cool things about this beer is that not only does the recipe change each year, but so does the label. That's right, a different label each year since 1975 when this beer was introduced. You can check them all out here: Christmas Ale Labels

I hope all of you had the chance to celebrate this special day for us beer lovers in your own unique way. Let me know what you enjoyed!


Thursday, December 5, 2013

Happy 21st Amendment Day!

Celebrate your right to drink, because on this day, in 1933, the 21st Amendment of the U.S Constitution was ratified! Thus ending Prohibition.

So, today, take a moment and raise your glass in honor of the 21st Amendment.


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

December 4th, Beer-Mas is on schedule!

Happy 4th of December everyone. I've finally caught up and should hopefully be posting my beers of Beer-Mas on or just after the day that they are consumed.

Todays beer is a beer from our neighboring state of Pennsylvania, an interesting take on a wheat beer.

December 4th

Winter Cheers by Victory Brewing Company

The flavor of this beer was pretty unique, not like anything I've had before. To me, it tasted like a Belgian Wit, but the spicing was bizarre, in a good Christmas-y way.

Probably my favorite part about this beer is that when I was looking it up on Victory Brewing's website, they have this for sale. Winter Cheers Ornament. And as a proud owner of a Guinness Christmas ornament, I understand the importance of getting some beer love up on the tree.

Give this a try and let me know how you liked it. Guaranteed to be different from the other holiday beers out there.

Beer-Mas December 3rd

On the third day of this Christmas count-down, I had the opportunity to check out a new bottle shop right here in Rochester, NY!

It goes by the name of AJ's Beer Warehouse and you can check them out here:

They just opened up last week but have already gotten the shelves stocked up with a pretty fantastic selection of beers. A big part of the shop is dedicated to NY craft selections, which is awesome. Drink Local!

One of the beers that I was excited to try since I didn't get a chance to last year, was from a local brewery in the Finger Lakes area

December 3rd

Nice and Naughty Christmas Ale by Naked Dove Brewing Company

I picked up this mini-growler, which got me about 3 tulips full of this tasty treat. Great taste and fresh, definitely worth checking out if you are in the area.

December 2nd Beer-Mas

Carrying on with my catch-up, here are the beers I had on December 2nd and 3rd.

The next beer is a beer that I had last year but really enjoyed. Then again, I've enjoyed most of the things that I've had from this brewery. They have had a special place in my heart since I won a t-shirt from them in a Twitter trivia contest.

December 2nd

Christmas Ale by Abita Brewing Company

Like the beads in the background? I guess they are kind of like a Chrismas-time Mardi Gras decorations to celebrate this Louisiana based brewery. Actually, these beads end up scattered throughout the house by my wife as part of our Christmas decorations, and it usually takes the next year to locate them all. But I think they look good enough, and it keeps the Mrs. happy, which is what the holidays are all about!

Playing Catch-Up....Beer-Mas Style!

So, I decided to start my blog on December the 4th, which means I'm already behind on my 25 days of Beer-Mas!

Fear not, thanks to Untappd and my penchant for taking a picture of the beers I'm enjoying, I'll get myself back on track!

Starting with December 1st

I decided to start my 25 days off with a special beer for me....a homebrew.

Scottish Winter Solstice by Willow Valley Homebrewery (This is my homebrewery name. Named after the street I lived on when I first got in the hobby)

It was a little thinner on the mouthfeel that I wanted, but a pretty good shot at my first Christmas beer attempt. This was a kit from Northern Brewer, and only my second ever all-grain batch. You can check it out here Northern Brewer Spiced Winter Ale

The 25 Days of Beer-Mas

This year, leading up to Christmas, I decided to celebrate the season in the best way possible...Drinking Holiday Beers!

I was partly inspired by the fantastic book "Christmas Beer: The Cheeriest, Tastiest, and Most Unusual Holiday Brews" by Don Russell

Check out the book if you are interested in holiday beers. It is full of some great information, history, and a great list of holiday beers that if you can get, you should try.

In this book, it lists the Worlds Best 50 Christmas beers, along with other beers to enjoy for Christmas. Even if you don't celebrate Christmas, there is something special about enjoying these beverages on a cold winters night.

With this list as a good starting point, I decided that I'd try to run down 25 of my own Christmas beers and try a new one each day until Christmas. Stay tuned for my list and let me know if you have any special holiday beers that you really enjoy.


Lets get the year started!

Well, somehow or another, you've stumbled onto my tiny corner of the internet. Thanks for reading this far!

This blog is going to be a little beer-journal that I keep to remind myself of the crazy hoops I jump through and how much fun I have doing it for one of my favorite things in the world...Beer!

I'll be keeping it up-to-date with what's brewing, where we've been visiting, what I've been tasting, and hopefully about some of the friends I make along the way.

Check back for updates and feel free to drop me a line to let me know what I should be drinking, brewing, or special beer places I need to check out.

Thanks again for stopping by, and remember to Always drink responsibly.