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THROW ANOTHER LOG ON THE FIRE AND GET COZY WITH THESE WOOD-AGED BEERS Sixpack Gadd’s Allagash Curieux This Maine-brewed bottle-conditioned ale has a sudsy mouthfeel with oak-bomb flavors and a hint of good Kentucky bourbon—no surprise, since the stuff is aged in used Jim Beam barrels for two months. A reassuring nose of mother’s milk, vanilla, oaky Chardonnay and crème brûlée. Voluptuous in the extreme, it packs an immense panoply of flavors that encompass persimmons, dates, pears, chocolate, mocha java and Johnson & Johnson baby powder. A Wagnerian opera of a beer. ALLAGASH BREWING COMPANY Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron Right out of the bottle this stuff is as black and forbidding as molten pitch. It’s aged in 10,000-gallon tanks made of Paraguayan palo santo (“holy tree”), a wood that’s also used in winemaking in South America. Deep, liquorous flavors of wax, tar, Kiwi shoe polish, resin, lacquer and pure evil, with a fruit-ester sweetness on the finish that promises eventual redemption, if you live that long. DOGFISH HEAD CRAFT BREWERY Firestone Double Barrel Ale This brilliant amber ale is matured in Firestone Walker’s solera-style barrel system, modeled on the originals in England’s Burton-on- Trent. Winey, rich and rewarding as a romp through a lumber mill, this brew sets the American benchmark for wood-aged beers. FIRESTONE WALKER BREWING COMPANY Great Divide Oak Aged Yeti Imperial Stout Straight outta Denver and dark as a moon- less Rockies midnight, this is the hairier, gnarlier version of “regular” Yeti. Crisp, dry and teeth-clenching, it gets right down to the business of being a slack-shoul- dered, posture-challenged, snow- dwelling monster, slathering on lavish malt and a dose of feral hops that will set your molars on edge. Abominable, and I love it. Rabies shot not included. GREAT DIVIDE BREWING COMPANY Oaked Arrogant Bastard Ale Since last time I looked, Stone Brewing seems to have turned the justly celebrated Arrogant Bastard Ale into its own spinoff brand, complete with website. The Stone name is downplayed on the label, but there’s no mistaking the taste. This ver- sion is aged on American oak chips and, like its unwooded sibling, it marches across the palate as relentlessly as a Roman legion, taking no captives and leaving a swath of sublime destruction in its path. (You were expecting polite beer from Stone?) There’s oak there, if you can find it between the beefy phalanx of malt and the javelin-hurling ranks of intensely bitter hops. STONE BREWING COMPANY Scaldis Prestige From Brasserie Dubuisson, this is the Screaming Eagle of beers, with seriously off-the-charts depth and breadth of flavor. The assertive wood (six months’ worth of new French oak) is like chewing through a buffet of barrel staves, but this Belgian brew rewards the devout with gorgeous, generous and entirely genuine flavors. One of the most delicious liquids ever to swirl down my gullet. VANBERG & DEWULF Thanks to beer buyer Michael Jonasen at Red Carpet Wine & Spirits in Glendale, CA, for his help in locating this month’s brews. december 2010 / the tasting panel / 57

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