beer release

Lompoc Holiday Beer Extravaganza as the Brewery Rolls Out 7 Winter Beers

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Lompoc Brewing owner Jerry Fechter (front center), Assistant brewre Brendan Murphy (back left) and Head Brewer Bryan Kielty (back right)

Nearly twenty-one-year-old Lompoc Brewing is known for its winter seasonals, producing more than half a dozen winter ales each year. 2017’s lineup includes returning favorites and new flavors that launch Mon. November 27th, at Sidebar. At a recent early advanced tasting opportunity I was able to try five of the seven new releases and add some tasting notes to the official descriptions and release info below. In addition to the seven winter ales, Lompoc also releases a Barrel-Aged Cranberry Saison in bottles this Friday 11/17 and is holding a garage sale on Saturday, Dec. 2nd with great deals on swag, merch, and vintage bottles from the cellar.

Blitzen, Brewdolph, C-Sons Greetings, and Old Tavern Rat are returning to the winter lineup this year. I was especially excited to see Old Tavern Rat, Lompoc’s amazing barleywine and tribute to late Horse Brass Pub founder Don Younger. This year Old Tavern Rat is actually from 2016, aged for a full year before release as usual, and also available in a port barrel-aged version. Joining the Cranberry Saison on this year’s slate of new additions are Top Shelf Dubbel, Old Sport, and Lump of Coal, an imperial porter with cherries.

 

Barrel-Aged Cranberry Saison bottles will be released Fri. Nov 17th

 

Top Shelf Dubbel, Old Sport is Lompoc’s annual barrel-aged entry into the Holiday Ale Festival. This beer goes for that rich, malty caramel flavor, along with dark fruit notes of raisins and dates, etc., but I think fails with its aging in Maryhill Winery Cabernet Sauvignon barrels, which just gives it a sharp acetic and solvent-like quality like nail polish and vinegar. If some fresh Top Shelf Dubbel was blended back in to keep those harsh barrel wine notes at bay, I think it could be pretty dang good. 7% ABV

 

C-Sons Greetings IIPA and BA Cranberry Saison are the two Lompoc winter ales that will be bottled this year

 

C-Sons Greetings is a double IPA version of Lompoc’s regular IPA C-Note. C-Sons is always a tasty beer but much more malt forward and still quite hoppy. It’s a more balanced IPA between malt sweetness and full on citrus and pine from big additions of the “C” hops (Cascade, Centennial, Chinook, and others) that amount to seven different hops altogether. 8.8% ABV

Blitzen is usually a Belgian Tripel style, but this year it uses some of Oregon Fruit Products new Soursop and Tangerine puree. It was not ready to sample yet, but I can’t wait to try this version, which also has bright peppery coriander and is dry-hopped with Mandarina Bavaria hops. The description calls it a bright straw colored beer with citrusy aroma and slight spice on the back end. 4.6% ABV

Brewdolph is a Belgian-style Red Ale that also was not quite ready to try. It’s billed as having a malty and creamy body, a mild fruitiness, and the distinct spicy clove character that its Belgian Ardennes yeast strain often gives off. 7.7% ABV

Old Tavern Rat 2016 as I said before is always a favorite. I do believe it’s one of the best barleywines out there, it combines both the English and American Barleywine sensibilities into a big bold beer that–because it’s aged a year in advance–is still pretty drinkable. From the English-style heritage, it’s a dark, amber malty and nutty richness with flavors of delicious bread pudding. From the American version, it’s got a strong hop bitterness to back up all of its heavy malt depth, the hops and the bitterness balance but not overwhelm this 9.4% ABV

Port Barrel Aged Old Tavern Rat 2016 was one I was excited about considering my love of Old Tavern Rat and a previous vintage in Bourbon Barrels may have been the best ever. Like the Top Shelf Dubbel, this beer does pick up some harsh acetic and alcohol notes from the barrel, but the heaviness of this beer balances them out better. The port definitely lightens out the body and adds a fruity grape wine note that is interesting. Some may prefer this, but I found the harshness of the barrel to make it not quite as good as the regular non barrel-aged Old Tavern Rat.

Lump of Coal might be the star of the show, though, or at least it was the best of the lot sans Old Tavern Rat 2016. Lump of Coal (not to be confused with the English classic by Ridgeway Brewing) is an imperial porter aged on sour cherries for six weeks. Dark beers with cherries always sounds good, but often you find either the sourness of the cherries dominate or the bold roasty bitterness dominates a sweet cherry. Not the case here, perhaps because Lompoc aged this beer in steel tanks and not in barrels it allowed the beer to not become acidic and instead balance chocolate roast notes with subtle but definitely still present cherry flavor. I could do a pint of this beer and hope to have a few this winter. 8% ABV

 

 

The Lompoc Holiday Beer Extravaganza party will take place on Monday, Nov. 27 from 4pm to 11pm at Sidebar, 3901 N Williams Ave. All of the seven holiday ales will go on tap at all other Lompoc pubs on Nov. 28. C-Sons Greetings and the Barrel-Aged Cranberry Saison are the only ones that will be available in bottles this year.

 

 

Also add to your calendar the Lompoc Garage Sale at Sidebar on Saturday, Dec. 2nd from Noon to 4pm. Just in time for the holiday shopping season Lompoc is offering great deals for beer lovers ages 21+ at its annual Garage Sale. Visit the barrel tasting room, order up a pint, and find deals on Lompoc merchandise, wearables, and special bottles from the cellar.

Available vintage bottles for purchase include 2008 Bob’s Memorial Braggot; 2010 Bourbon Barrel Aged Monster Mash; 2010, 2012, 2013 Monster Mash; 2011 Bourbon Barrel Aged Old Tavern Rat; 2011 Bourbon Barrel Aged C-Sons Greetings; 2012 8 Malty Nights; 2013, 2015 C-Sons Greetings; 2014 Double Down ESB; 2014 Bourbon Barrel Aged Dark Side Porter; and 2015 Bourbon Barrel Aged Derail Olde Ale.

For more information, visit LompocBrewing.com and get social @LompocBeer.

Founder of The New School and most frequent contributor Ezra Johnson-Greenough has worked in the craft beer industry for almost 10 years, doing everything from illustrating beer labels to bartending at renowned beer bars and breweries like Belmont Station, Apex, Laurelwood and Upright Brewing. He has also had a hand in creating events like the Portland Fruit Beer Festival, Portland Beer Week, and the Brewing up Cocktails series. He is available for freelance consultation in marketing, events, graphic design and branding. Contact: [email protected]

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