Monday, November 28, 2005
Saturnalia MMV press release, with beer descriptions.
November 28, 2005.
THE NEW ALBANIAN BREWING COMPANY PUTS THE PAGAN BACK INTO CHRISTMAS WITH “SATURNALIA MMV,” A DRAFT BEER FESTIVAL BEGINNING DECEMBER 16 … AT RICH O’S PUBLIC HOUSE AND SPORTSTIME PIZZA IN NEW ALBANY.
In pre-Christian Rome, Saturnalia was the annual winter solstice celebration that originally coincided with the feast days for Saturn (god of sowing and the harvest), Consus (god of the storage bin) and Opa (goddess of plenty).
Many of our contemporary winter holiday traditions derive from Saturnalia’s pagan roots, including the hanging of wreaths and garlands, donations to the needy, prayers for peace on earth, time away from work to be enjoyed with family, and of course eating, drinking and merriment.
On Friday, December 16, Rich O’s Public House and Sportstime Pizza pays tribute to these ancient pagan origins with the kick-off of Saturnalia, a draft beer festival scheduled to last past Christmas and New Year’s into January of 2006.
For NABC’s second Saturnalia celebration, I’ve gathered 31 special kegs of beer – some rare, some seasonal and others just innately festive – from America and around the world (see complete list below).
Some of these hard-to-find beers will be appearing in draft form for the first time ever in metropolitan Louisville, as is the case annually during two other renowned draft festivals at Rich O’s and Sportstime:
Gravity Head (strong ales and lagers; begins February 24, 2006).
Lupulin Land (harvest hops; begins October 13, 2006).
When the doors open at 1:00 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 16, the first 15 sacrificial Saturnalia selections for MMV will be revealed, tapped in a ritualistic manner … and the hedonistic pleasure will begin. The 16 remaining kegs will be tapped as needed when the first wave depletes.
Contact: Roger A. Baylor, Co-owner and Publican
Pricing and portion sizes vary according to alcohol content and style. Selections marked with an asterisk * are appearing on draft for the first time at Rich O’s Public House and Sportstime Pizza. There will be 31 draft beers in all, with 15 to be tapped on December 16, and the remaining 16 following in due course as openings occur. This will take several weeks. During the festival’s run, information and updates will appear on these web sites:
Rich O’s Public House
Note: Gale’s Christmas Ale (2003) is a cask-conditioned ale and will be served from the hand-pump beginning on Friday, December 16.
BEER DESCRIPTIONS, BY COUNTRY OF ORIGIN.
Corsendonk Christmas Ale
Spices likely are used, but precise information is lacking. The effect is subtle and polished, complementing a typically rich, malty, seasonal Belgian Abbey-style ale.
*De Dolle Special Extra Export Stout
Dolle’s first-ever Stout is brewed with roasted, chocolate, pale and caramel malts; Nugget hops; house yeast; and candy sugar. Combining chocolate, coffee and espresso flavors with Dolle’s characteristically singular funk yields an individualistic Belgian Export-style Stout.
De Dolle Stille Nacht
Stille Nacht means “Silent Night” and is Dolle’s winter seasonal, a high-gravity treat brewed with pale malts and white candy sugar, full and sweet in a complex way, with judicious additions of Nugget hops for balance. 9% abv
De Ranke Pere Noel
An amber winter Belgian seasonal that offers traditional elements like spiciness, but builds to a dry, hoppy finish, eschewing the near-universal sweetness of many such Belgian ales.
The venerable, family-run Huyghe brewery near Ghent created this holiday beer in 2000 to complete their “Delirium trilogy,” and appropriately, Noel blends the clean flavor profiles of Delirium Tremens and Delirium Nocturnum into a unique third way, albeit slightly stronger at 10% abv, prompting the brewery to remind us that it “requires a responsible consumption.”
*La Rulles Cuvee Meilleurs Veoux “Best Holiday Wishes”Unpreviewed Wallonian Christmas ale, brewed with multiple malts, three different hop varieties, and fermented with Orval’s unique Trappist yeast strain.
Thyme, vanilla, orange peel and candi sugar are among the spices used to accent a dark and brawny winter seasonal, brewed in the hills of the Ardennes.
St. Feuillien Cuvee de Noel
Reddish-brown Abbey-style elixir with secret herbs and spices evident in the aroma, but much less so in the palate, which suggests the quintessential Belgian body and flavor.
9 % abv
Mahr’s Christmas Bock
In the tradition of Yuletide lagers, this is a tweaked version of the classic Bamberg brewery’s springtime Bock – a shade tawnier, and with more assertive noble hop character.
Kiuchi Hitachino Nest New Year Celebration Ale 2005
We’ve given last year’s release of this hybrid spiced Japanese micro Eisbock another nine months to age in the keg, and are expecting a smooth, complex character with a punch.
Circa 7.6 to 9% abv
Gale’s Christmas Ale 2003
Cross your fingers, folks. Normally two-year old cask ale would be impossible to serve, but this is a special stronger Christmas brew. If it’s right, it could be a Saturnalia high point.
JW Lees Moonraker
The name comes from the purported habit of soused local farm workers to try and “rake” the moon’s glow on a placid pond near the Lees brewery. We’ll take some of what they were drinking, bartender.
*Ridgeway Seriously Bad Elf
This Bad Elf keep getting more obstreperous as the years pass. He’s already been in trouble this year (http://www.sheltonbrothers.com/home.htm) in Connecticut, with Indiana misbehavior still yet to come.
Ridgeway Santa’s Butt
A higher-gravity nod to Salopian Brewing’s Entire Butt, itself a revival of the classic English tradition of mixing certain ales to achieve the flavor profile for what eventually came to be known and brewed as Porter.
Young's Winter Warmer
Textbook example of a maltier, slightly stronger winter version of an English ale, brewed by one of the world’s most famous breweries (located in London).
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
Anchor Christmas Ale (“Merry Christmas & Happy New Year”)
The recipe has differed each year since the holiday ale’s inception in 1975, but the conceptual links with trees (on the label) and the winter solstice have remained consistent.
*Arrogant (Oaked) Bastard
According to Stone Brewing Company, the addition of oak chips to its flagship, “angry” Arrogant Bastard Ale transforms it into something more “sophisticated.” Indeed, the hints of oak complement this rare Bastard’s trademark hoppiness in a worthy and memorable way.
*Avery Old Jubilation
Previewed in November to rave reviews, Avery’s “winter warmer” ale is mahogany in color, with a malty, nutty and slightly English flavor (sans spices) deriving from the use of five malts and Bullion hops for balance. Rich, elegant, and almost restrained by Avery’s evolving standards of gravity brewing.
*Dark Horse Tres Blueberry Stout
This unpreviewed, fruit-laced Stout comes from one of many innovative Michigan breweries.
Great Lakes Christmas Ale
In general terms, the brewing of holiday specialties breaks down to one of two paths, irrespective of national origins. One is the tradition of adding spices or flavorings to a stronger-than-usual beer. The other is a stronger-than-usual beer, without spices. Upland Winter Warmer represents the latter, and Great Lakes Christmas Ale the former. Four malts, wheat, honey, cinnamon, ginger and grapefruit-like Cascades hops combine to produce a dictionary definition of spiced holiday microbrew, American-style.
Left Hand Milk Stout
The addition of lactose (milk sugar) to stout is an English practice, with the calories added helping to bolster claims of nutritive qualities that probably would not withstand the scrutiny of modern science. This is a decidedly sweet stout not to be mistaken for Guinness or stronger Imperial Stouts. Pleasant notes of chocolate and oats, low gravity.
New Holland Phi
Another Michigan innovator, one that offers annual, wildly differing interpretations of a proportional recipe formula as part of its high gravity series. The 2005 Phi is golden and strong. What is it? If you have an opinion, let me know.
*Oaken Barrel Epiphany
Brewer Ken Price uses Westmalle Trappist yeast to fashion this tasty Tripel, which nudges toward the sweet side of the range without sacrificing a velvety elegance.
Circa 9% abv
Rogue Chocolate Stout
Brewed with a staggering 10 ingredients, including chocolate malt, chocolate flavoring and rolled oats, and rich in every conceivable respect. Draft is made available very selectively, so we’re fortunate to have one.
Circa 6% abv
Rogue HazelNut Brown Nectar
First concocted in honor of a creative, homebrewing friend of Rogue’s head brewer, HazelNut Brown Nectar is brewed with hazelnut extract, a half-dozen malts, Perle and Saaz hops, and Rogue’s trademark yeast strain.6.2% abv
Rogue Santa’s Private Reserve
After a year’s absence, Santa’s Private Reserve is back on draft as part of Rogue’s “John’s Locker Stock” series. Imagine a slightly bigger St. Rogue Red with double the hops, and you’re almost there.
Circa 6.5% abv
*Schmaltz He’Brew Jewbelation 5766
What can be said about a contract brewing company that says it is “celebrating nine years of delicious beer and delicious shtick”? Jewbelation has 9,000 lbs of 9 different malts and 9 different hop additions.
Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale
Speaking from the perspective of a dozen years’ experience at Rich O’s, it is indeed difficult to imagine another seasonal ale that symbolizes the holidays better than Celebration Ale. Desert island beer for many, recurring seasonal favorite, with generous doses of Chinook (for bittering), Cascades and Centennial hops, dry-hopped with all three, but not neglecting a delicious malt underpinning.
*Summit Winter Ale
Unpreviewed, but on the dark side, inspired by English winter ales, and almost surely malty rather than hoppy.
Three Floyds Alpha Klaus Xmas Porter
Only Three Floyds Brewing Company would devise a robust porter with English chocolate and Mexican sugar (or vice versa, depending on the source) that reeks of piney hop essence and is built on a broad, malty foundation. We’re quite happy they did. Highly recommended by anyone who’s sampled it previously, including the Publican.
Upland Winter Warmer
Upland’s winter specialty is perhaps best described as a cross between an Old Ale and an English-style Barley Wine, falling a bit shy of the strong American microbrewed interpretations of both styles. Compare to the Young’s Winter Warmer.