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Blind Beer Tasting   BLIND BEER TASTING (December 2008/January 2009)

This is the Celebrator’s eighth annual tasting of holiday beers, and it’s still the one we all look forward to the most. Holiday beers are, by design, no one style, but offer an opportunity for individual breweries to let their talents and imagination run wild. At the holidays, when people stop their busy lives and share some precious time with family and friends, the beer they choose should be equally as special as the time they’re sharing. So a holiday beer should be made to impress, to wow its audience, to stand out. Those are the only criteria that should be met by one of these beers.

Will it impress? Different breweries, thankfully, do this in many, many different ways. Some use unusual spices or fruits, some use special malts or hops, some use other uncommon ingredients like spruce or rye, and some make a style that itself is unusual. So there’s nothing to tie these beers together apart from their celebration of the season. That makes them a delight as well as a challenge to judge. Ultimately, perhaps more than with any other tasting, these beers are simply a matter of preference, and our judging is the result of what we like. So try them and discover for yourself the many flavors of this holiday season.


New Beer Releases   NEW BEER RELEASES (December 2008/January 2009)
Barley Wine Style Ale

Doppelbock, 21st Anniversary

Firestone Walker XII

Hopfen Weisse

Imperial Porter

Obovoid Oak-Aged Oatmeal Stout

Terra-rye'd Black Rye Lager

The Abyss

The Dissident



New Beer Releases   BOOK REVIEWS (December 2008/January 2009)
100 Belgian Beers to Try Before You Die!

Hey! I’ve just found the perfect Christmas gift for your hard-to-buy-for beer-loving brother-in-law. You know, the one who has everything and has tried every beer. 100 Belgian Beers to Try Before You Die! is a challenge to anyone who thinks that they’ve sampled all the different styles of Belgian beers. This is a fun book because even the most jaded beer aficionado will find something new here. Some of the beers will challenge the taste buds, because this book looks at the...

Christmas Beer
The Cheeriest, Tastiest, and Most Unusual Holiday Brews

In his new book, Christmas Beer, Don Russell, the “Joe Sixpack” of the popular weekly beer column in the Philadelphia Daily News, chooses The Mad Elf from Tröegs Brewing Company in nearby Harrisburg at the top of his list of the World’s 50 Best Christmas Beers. If that shows a tad of Homerism, make the most of it.

Nobody who reads this charming and informative treatise — the first comprehensive collection ever of information about the worldwide tradition of brewing festive beers for the winter holidays — is going to feel that Russell is misleading them or playing favorites. “I know of no other beer like Mad Elf, and I thought that...

The Curiosities of Ale and Beer

A compendium of all things beery from a time long past but nonetheless important and delightful to behold some 120 years later. Verse and prose are intertwined with woodcuts and engravings of the period, conjuring a time when ale played a life-enhancing role in song and literature.

From Chapter IV: “Then long may here the ale-charged Tankards shine, Long may the Hop plant triumph o’er the Vine” [Initial caps theirs]. I have two copies — reprints published in 1965. I am delighted that has made this curiously compelling reference volume available once again to the...

Good Beer Guide
Prague & the Czech Republic

The Czechs consume more beer per capita than any other country. A bewildering array of labels and breweries in a diacritically imbued language greets the traveler, but how to winnow out the treasures from the ordinaire? CAMRA’s Evan Rail knows the country and its beers and provides a unique service in that regard.

His comprehensive guide includes reviews of significant pubs, brewpubs and breweries; a handy pronunciation guide (a definite plus); a glossary of beer terms; and travel and lodging suggestions, along with extensive reviews of the beers themselves. Your first walk down from the thousand-year-old Prague Castle across the...

Great Beers of Belgium
Sixth Edition, 2008

The sixth edition of this phenomenal treatise on Belgian beer represents a substantial addition to the previous U.S. printing published in 1998. Michael Jackson, the famed “Beer Hunter,” who died August 30, 2007, made extensive additions and corrections to his earlier work, and some 300 new photos were added, making this the “must have” reference and guide to the treasures of Belgian beer.

There was, however, a fifth edition of this book published in Belgium in English. If you have that book, you will find the differences between the fifth and sixth editions to be subtle. If you have not read Jackson on his most passionate subject — the treasures and romance to be found in the appreciation of the great Belgian brewing traditions — this book is required and is the perfect gift for your...





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