Unibroue Ale Gâteau Forêt-Noire

Unibroue was the first North American brewer to use a brewing method inspired by the two-centuries-old tradition developed by monks in Europe, particularly Belgium. Now the Quebec, Canada-based brewery is commemorating its 25th anniversary and to celebrate, it has released this new, limited-release beer. Brewmaster Jerry Vietz said he based this brew on the idea that “you can’t have an anniversary party without a cake. With roasted malt aroma, tart cherries, cocoa beans and dark chocolate flavors, I brewed Ale Gâteau Forêt-Noire to be pleasantly evocative of the classic Black Forest cake.” As I sampled this 10.5 percent ABV brew I noticed its flavors intensified as it warmed up and a slight aftertaste of dark chocolate and tart cherry poked its way through, so I caution you to allow it to warm up a bit before sipping, or savor it slowly to enjoy it to the fullest. Ale Gâteau Forêt-Noire is available in the U.S. for a limited time. Use the finder tool in the Unibroue Passport App or visit unibrouefinder.com to see where it is available near you.

Pampelonne Sparkling Wine Cocktails

These days you can find just about anything in a can, and why not, as cans are convenient and an excellent vehicle for keeping drinks at optimum condition before serving. Case in point is this 6% ABV French white wine-based cocktail, which serves as an alternative to traditional wines. I sampled the Harvest Pear Palmetto with natural flavors of Bosc pear and Meyer lemon infused with aromatics of cardamom, cinnamon and ginger; Rose Lime with notes of passion fruit, ruby red grapefruit and lime; and French 75 with aromatics of juniper and Meyer lemon, balanced with notes of spicy bergamot and elderflower. Other flavors include Blood Orange Spritz, Negroni Sbagliato, Watermelon Americano and Black Cherry Bicicletta. A bonus is the fact that Pampelonne is low carb (8-10 grams), gluten free and only 120 calories per 8.4 oz can with 7-8 grams of sugar. 

Anchor Brewing 2018 Christmas Ale

Since 1975 Anchor Brewing has created a distinctive Christmas Ale, available from early Nov. to mid-January, and this year marks its 44th annual rendition. A collector’s item for many beer aficionados, the fun is having some now and saving some to taste later to compare with other vintages. The recipe is different every year, along with the hand-drawn ubiquitous tree depicted on the label, which this year is a Korean Pine, a tree native to both North and South Korea that is a symbol of peace and is flourishing in picturesque botanical gardens north of San Francisco, Anchor’s home base. (To view all 44 versions of the Christmas tree label, visit www.anchorbrewing.com/beer/christmas_ale/labels.) The recipe and ingredients are a heavily guarded secret, but Anchor Brewmaster Scott Ungermann describes year’s version: “Our 2018 Christmas Ale has varying specialty malts, lending rich flavors of brûléed sugars, holiday spices and freshly baked banana bread with a velvety finish.  The aromatics are quintessential for the holiday season: nutty candied yams and resinous pine.  It pours a nice mahogany brown color with a fluffy, tan head.” 

Reuben’s Brews

Since opening in 2012, this family-run Seattle-based brewery, named after co-founders Adam and Grace Robbins’ first child Reuben, has won a slew of awards at the Great American Beer Festival, World Beer Cup, US Open and in 2015 was named Mid-Sized Brewery of the Year at the 2015 Washington Beer Awards. Available just in time for the holidays is Holiday Gose, fermented with lactobacillus and brewed with over 10 pounds of cranberries per barrel, sweet orange zest, a touch of coriander and a hint of sea salt. Another seasonal release, available through Jan., is Roasted Red IPA brewed with ESB, Caramel, Chocolate and Crystal Rye malts; and hopped with Amarillo, Cascade and Magnum, for a nose of tangerine and citrus and notes of caramel, chocolate and roast, making this an IPA and Winter Warmer wrapped into one brew. Available year round, the Hazealicious IPA is representative of a style growing in popularity, Hazy IPA, which brings the vibrant hoppy citrus notes of an IPA but with restrained bitterness. Reuben’s Brews beers are primarily available in Washington, Northern Idaho and the Portland Metro area.

www.reubensbrews.com