Welcome back to Sip Northwest’s Bar Tab, our editor’s weekly selection of what to drink in the Northwest now. All hail the winter ale this week: a beer of patience, suds of perseverance, a pint worth the restraint. Six cellar-worthy beers are detailed here, currently available in bottle for a very limited time. So come on in, belly up to the counter and order a digital drink on us to stash away in your private collection.
2015 Darth Delirium Imperial Stout | Broken Tooth Brewing Co. | From Alaska’s largest city comes a beer of equal size. Darth (for the Vader we all know so well) is a roasty, full-bodied imperial stout, accented with a Belgian yeast strain’s spice, rich malts, velvety chocolate and chewy fig notes. Hold this one for a few months, but feel free to cheat as this beer is sipping smoothly now.
Collage 2 Barrel Aged Ale | Deschutes Brewery and Hair of the Dog Brewing Co. | An “artistic collage” from the Conflux Series featuring two Oregon brewery powerhouses, four beers become one for this cask-aged, caramel-and-vanilla-coated sipper. Deschutes’ The Abyss and The Stoic (both aged in Pinot Noir barrels) are blended with Hair of the Dog’s Fred (aged in American oak and rye barrels) and Doggie Claws (aged in cognac barrels). Hide this one for as long as you can, dried fruit and fresh-crack roasty flavors are to develop further over time.
Decline Barley Wine Ale | Icicle Brewing Co. | This annual holiday release from the Leavenworth, Washington, beer haven should stick around, possibly well into next winter, so stash away appropriately to compare against future bottlings. A full force of 11 percent ABV reaches adolescence with eight months of barrel aging, but also has a proven track record of reaching maturity in bottle with brown sugar, plum, oak spice and toffee malts, like a liquid fruit cake.
Brick & Mortar Imperial Belgian Porter | Kettlehouse Brewing | Because regular porters were to easy. Because this tastes like a boozy spiced chocolate cake, with toasted barley and diced dried fig and walnuts on top. Although this is a “mainstay” beer for the Missoula, Montana, brewery, it certainly has the strength and flavor to lay down for time to do its thing and develop more of the malty, cake-like qualities of the thick porter.
Bourbon Barrel-Aged Fat Scotch Ale | Silver City Brewery | Scotch ale is having a heyday in the PNW as of late, with Montana and Washington leading the charge. The barrel-aging enthusiasts at this Bremerton, Washington, brewery drop their rendition each winter, brewed with a variety of roasty and dense malts and aged in single-use Kentucky bourbon barrels for a smoke-toned beer of whiskey, vanilla and oak. Savor next to a cigar when you and the beer are both older than you are today.
Flemish Kiss | The Commons Brewery | The popuarl Portland brewery hasn’t released this beer since 2012, so the 2016 release came with much anticipation when bottles hit the market in November. A pale ale in nature, clean ale yeast takes the first ferment while Brettanomyces picks up in the end before it sits for 10 months in 60-barrel foudre (small oak vats). Earthy and fruit-forward, the medium-bodied ale boasts flavors of red stone fruits with a mildly tangy and somewhat floral finish.