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Stuffed Sandwich Holiday Tasting 12/14/19

On December 14th, 2019, we held a unique tasting of hard to find seasonal and vintage beers at the world famous Stuffed Sandwich in San Gabriel, CA.

A deli that happens to be one of the greatest beer outlets in the Southland, The Stuffed Sandwich (www.stuffedsandwich.com) has been at the craft beer game for nearly as long as the Falcons (1976 to our 1974). The decades-long fixation of The Stuffed Sandwich on the best in beer means that this is always one of the greatest surveys of winter holiday beers that you can find anywhere!

Grand Hydro Drew lead us through a flight of rare and delicious beers, including a surprise tasting of 3 years of Thomas Hardy's Ale. And of course, we all enjoyed amazing food from The Stuffed Sandwich!

This special annual tasting dates back to 1991 when "Craft Beer" was just a dream and places to find interesting, imported beer were scarce. The legacy of the Falcons support for this pioneering beer venue is well-established, and this unique event is always a great time!

Bernard's Tasting Notes

by Bernard Lebel

Beer: Saint-Médard, Cuvée de Noël, France

Vintage: 2019
Style: Unfiltered saison with elderberries
My score: 3/5
Notes: Huge caramelized fruit, dark caramel, dark chocolate. Chocolate is huge, almost like chocolate powder. Found that glassware made a huge difference, mine was a tulip. But in the straight up glass, the profile had more coffee and less chocolate.

Beer: De Ranke Père Noël, Belgium

Vintage: 2019
Style: Unpasteurized, unfiltered ale
My score: 2/5
Notes: Prune, plum, some pear, nut, lemon on the nose. Flavor was very piney and very phenolic, almost in a sticky way. Long lasting bitterness. Lots of tannins, a little astringent.

Beer: Shiner Holiday Cheer, USA

Vintage: 2019
Style: Dunkelweizen
My score: 5/5
Notes: Lots of strawberry, bubble berry, jam, cherry, apricot, and lots of peach, like Peach Schnapps. Definite “speakiness” on the tongue.

Beer: Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale, USA

Vintage: 1999
Style: IPA
My score: 1/5
Notes: Assertive sherry and card board. I didn’t age particularly well. Also, notes of molasses, prune, and raisin. Big black sediment at the bottom, and an overall mellow flavor. My least favorite of the day.

Beer: Weird Beard Black Christmas, England

Vintage: 2019
Style: Stout brewed with cranberries
My score: 1/5
Notes: Some prune, light cinnamon, spruce spice. Red apple, and ash. Very light vanilla and coconut. No cranberry. Light soapy flavor. Mouthfeel was astringent, chewy, “squeaky”, and quite bitter. Astringency and ash flavor points at Black Patent malt - always a bad thing.

Beer: Prairie Christmas Bomb, USA

Vintage: 2019
Style: Imperial stout brewed with cinnamon.
My score: 4/5
Notes: Nutmeg, habanero, huge cinnamon, pumpkin spice, dark caramel, toffee. Kinda sweet, low carbonation. Viscous, also “squeaky”. Lingering sweetness, maybe from the alcohol. Warm, but in a good way.

Beer: Tom Hardy’s Ale, England

Vintages: 2005, 2004, 1999
Style: English barleywine
My score: 1999: 5/5
Preamble: This was the surprise beer! It ended up being 3 beers, a vertical of Tom Hardy’s Ale. We had to guess the beer beforehand. I called Adam from Hair of the Dog, others called Samiclaus and UKU28, an eisbock.
Notes: Everything you expect from an aged barleywine: sherry, madera, leather, tobacco, hints of vanilla and coconut, lots of pale caramel and toffee. The 2005 was just ok, the 2004 had gone a little bit bad, but the 1999 was outstanding. My favorite of the day.

Beer: Anchor Merry Christmas - Happy New Year Our Special Ale, USA

Vintage: 1989
Style: American dark ale
My score: 2/5
Notes: Prunte, date, ginger, molasses, light smoke and cinnamon. A bit thin. One of the opened bottles had a bit of vinegar. Overall, very faded.

Beer: The Bruery 6 Goose-a-Laying, USA

Vintage: 2013
Style: Belgian style dark ale with Cape gooseberries
My score: 1/5
Notes: Brown caramel, lightly fruity: red berries, graham cracker. Light butyric acid (not unanimous though, might have been just me). Lots of fusels though.

Beer: AleSmith Horny Devil, USA

Vintage: 2003
Style: Belgian style ale with coriander
My score: 1/5
Notes: Carrot cake coriander, light Cilantro, light fusels. Major carrot juice going on, extreme celery. This is V8 blended with beer. Some sherry and madeira notes, very light paper and cardboard. It means it’s oxidized.

Beer: Brasserie de Silly Barrel Aged Scotch Silly Ale, Belgium

Vintage: 2018
Style: Scotch ale aged in chardonnay barrels.
My score: 4/5
Notes: Very bready, pale caramel. Very high carbonation. Lots, lots of clove, and some nutmeg. Faint oak, some butter (not diacetyl), and a bit of chardonnay.

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