It’s almost time for Saturnalia Winter Solstice MMXIII, which kicks off on Plaid Friday, November 29, at NABC’s Pizzeria & Public House. This is the tenth edition of Saturnalia, which first took place in 2004.
For Saturnalia, we try to find representative samples of winter and seasonal styles (themselves pleasingly varied, stylistically) and augment them with others that strike us as somehow festive in purely subjective ways. Not only is it fun, but it’s also educational, providing Roger with frequent polemical opportunities to pontificate about the importance of unleashing our innermost pagans. Following is the boilerplate program information and beer descriptions in text format or click on the image below to open a PDF of the full program:
saturnalia winter solstice mmxiii … festive draft beers for the holidaze
2004-2013 … 10th anniversary saturnalia
In pre-Christian Rome, Saturnalia was the annual winter solstice celebration coinciding with the feast days for Saturn (the god of sowing and the harvest), Consus (god of the storage bin) and Opa (goddess of plenty).
Many of our contemporary winter holiday traditions derive from Saturnalia’s pagan roots, including the hanging of wreaths and garlands, donations to the needy, prayers for peace, time off work to be enjoyed with family, and of course eating, drinking and merriment. NABC pays tribute to these ancient pagan origins with Saturnalia, our holiday draft celebration. Dozens of special kegs from the USA and around the world – some rare, some seasonal and others just plain festive – will be pouring at our Pizzeria & Public House at 3312 Plaza Drive.
When the doors open at 11:00 a.m. on our new Saturnalia kick-off day, Plaid Friday (November 29), the first wave of sacrificial MMXIII Saturnalia selections will be tapped in the traditional, ritualistic manner, and the hedonistic pleasures will begin. The remaining kegs will be deployed as the days pass, and the revelry is expected to continue throughout the month of December.
Pricing and portion sizes vary according to alcohol content and style. Expect a few “surprise” kegs to materialize. During the festival’s run, information and updates will appear on our web site: www.newalbanian.com
l’Abbaye de St Bon Chien, 2011
Brasserie des Franches-Montagnes (BFM) is located in Jura, Switzerland. The brewery specializes in barrel aging, blending its l’Abbaye de Saint Bon-Chien (named after the late, lamented brewery cat) from batches aged in Merlot, Cabernet, Whisky and Grappa barrels. The customary outcome, which varies by year, is a fruity, spicy, sour and cellarable Biere de Garde. 11% abv.
Anchor Christmas Ale (“Merry Christmas & Happy New Year”), 2011
This holiday ale’s recipe has differed a tad each year since inception in 1975, but the conceptual links with trees (on the bottle label) and the winter solstice have endured throughout. 5.5% abv.
Breckenridge Breckenridge Pandora’s Bock
The recipe tells the tale: Two Row Pale, Munich and Caramel malts; Strisselspalt, Columbus, Northern Brewer and Hersbrucker hops; Bavarian lager yeast. Just the Bock, ma’am. 7.5% abv.
Clipper City “Heavy Seas” Siren Noire
The brewery explains: “This year’s Siren Noire Imperial Chocolate Stout has been revamped. We’ve aged it for three weeks in bourbon barrels, which gives the beer darker notes of raisin and fig. We’ve also tripled the amount of chocolate nibs and added vanilla bean. A mix of dark malts gives Siren Noire a well-rounded body that is decidedly chocolatey—but without being extraordinarily sweet.” 9.5% abv.
Dark Horse 4 Elf
Turning to the expertise of RateAdvocate, we were unable to specify a coherent review apart from frequent references to cinnamon, and so the brewery must be given the final word: “A spiced Winter Warmer brewed with nutmeg, clove, allspice and other holiday flavors. 9% abv.
Dark Horse Homosapien Trip Ale, 2012
The Michigan brewer likes to vary the routine. Sapient Trip, a Belgian-style Tripel, takes on cherries and hibiscus in this incarnation. 8.5 – 9.5% abv.
Dark Horse Perkulator, 2012
There is humor and much “word” in the brewery’s description: “This is a true Doppelbock and Dark Horse Brewing’s only publicly distributed lager. It was so normal that we couldn’t stand it, so we made it into a coffee Doppelbock. Ha, take that Germany, with your Reinheitsgebot purity law!” Includes fair trade organic coffee from The Ugly Mug Cafe in Ypsilanti, MI. 7.5% abv.
Noël, from the venerable, family-run Huyghe brewery near Ghent, blends the cleanness of Delirium Tremens (golden) and Delirium Nocturnum (dark) into a unique third way, albeit a shade stronger, prompting the brewery to remind us that it “requires a responsible consumption.” 10% abv.
Great Divide Oatmeal Yeti
Yet another of the endlessly inventive Yeti-augmented series of Imperial Stouts, this time with rolled oats and raisins. 9.5% abv.
Great Divide Hibernation Ale
It’s a winter ale, but one that is lagered for three months prior to release. Perhaps overshadowed by some of today’s extreme microbrews, but enduring, unique and worthy in its own right – deep, nutty and smooth. An annual, personal favorite of Roger’s. 8.1% abv.
NABC Naughty Claus
Santa needs daze off, too
A rich, full-bodied holiday spiced seasonal, as designed by David Pierce, director of brewing operations at NABC. Malts include Pale, Belgian Aromatic and Simpsons Crystal Medium malts, with Hosey honey added. Hops are German Hallertauer and Magnum. Orange Peel, Sweet Ginger Root, Cinnamon and Nutmeg are the spices (with dry-gingering in the Brite tanks). NABC’s house Chouffe yeast completes the scene. 8% abv.
Solidarity or Death
Baltic Porter is the best way to tip your hat to the activists in the Solidarity independent trade union, and a robust reminder of Baltic foresight in activism and strong beer. 8.5% abv.
NABC Tunnel Vision
The ultimate in subterranean sexy chic.
Those hardy immigrant gnomes who came from the venerable hills of the Ardennes to take up residence beneath the mysterious Knobs of Southern Indiana needed a potion reminiscent of home, and one sufficiently versatile for consumption in all seasons. This Royal Wallonian Ale is it. 9.5% abv.
Ovila (Sierra Nevada) Dubbel, Wine Barrel Aged
Ovila (Sierra Nevada) Quad, Brandy Barrel Aged
Ovila Abbey Ales are a series of Belgian-inspired brand extensions, brewed in (California? North Carolina?) as a collaboration between Sierra Nevada and monks at the Abbey of New Clairvaux (Vina, CA). Ruins of the original Santa María de Óvila monastery are near Madrid in Spain; in the 1930s, the American yellow journalist William Randolph Hearst bought and shipped monastery parts to California, and promptly abandoned them. The monks at New Clairvaux are using some of the stones to reconstruct a former Ovila building.
Southern Tier OAT
According to the brewery, this Imperial Oatmeal Stout is “dark as a moonless night,” adding: “Like a haversack to a horse, this stout is a meal in itself.” The question: Is an oat a grain or a legume?
Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale
It is indeed difficult to imagine another seasonal ale that symbolizes the holidays better than Celebration Ale. A recurring seasonal favorite, with generous doses of Chinook (for bittering), Cascades and Centennial hops, dry-hopped, but not neglecting delicious maltiness. 6.8% abv.
Stone Old Guardian Oak-Smoked Barley Wine
The 2013 “Odd Beers for Odd Years” release, and a tweaking of Stone’s classic, huge Barley Wine: “We added a substantial dose of German oak-smoked malt to this year’s odd year brew, enveloping it in a generous smokiness that complements its rich malt character and slightly dry finish.” Comparable to Schlenkerla Eiche? 11.4% abv.
Stone Vertical Epic 11.11.11
Stone’s tasting notes tell the tale: “Upfront the banana yeast-derived flavors are blended very nicely with toasted and toffee-like malt flavors, fruity esters, and balanced hints of cinnamon. Mid palate the Perle and Pacific Jade hops and the Hatch green chili flavors come through. The beer finishes dry, and bitter with just the tiniest hint of chili heat and a touch of alcohol.” 9.4% abv.
Stone Vertical Epic 12.12.12
Again, we turn to Stone to anoint the end of the vertical epic ride: “Crafted in the style of a traditional Belgian Noël beer, it’s dark, big and hearty …brewed with cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, clove, orange peel and rosehips (which turned out to be so sturdy we had to roll over them with a forklift to pulverize them for the brew), it’s a complex beer with many layers.” 9% abv.
Three Floyds Alpha Klaus Xmas Porter
Who else but Three Floyds Brewing Company would devise a porter with English chocolate and Mexican sugar (or vice versa, or both, depending on the source) that reeks of piney hop essence and is built on a malty foundation? No one. 7.5% abv.
Two Brothers Bare Tree
Two Brothers is a family brewing firm (founded 1997) in Chicagoland’s western suburbs, and its Wheat Wine is an anticipated yearly treat. We’re guesstimating a 50% wheat, 50% barley bill, and 10% abv.
Tyranena Devil Made Me Do It
From the Wisconsin brewer’s Brewers Gone Wild! Series, Devil Made Me Do It is not a yearly release, but appears whenever they feel like it. The style is Imperial Coffee Porter, or thereabouts, and the Sumatran and Costa Rican coffees used were roasted by the Berres Brothers in Watertown WI. 7.5% abv.