We're coasting into the best time of the year, beer-wise, with winter and holiday seasonals and luscious stouts starting to edge out summer session beers on retail shelves and tap walls.
At Hophead HQ, we've already nearly finished off our first (but likely not last) six-pack of Anchor's 2010 Christmas "Our Very Special Ale" and also really enjoyed the fantastic Great Divide Hibernation. Also, you may have noticed that the U.S. availability of Guinness Foreign Extra -- which I pestered Guinness brewmaster Fergal Murray into announcing back in March -- is finally coming to fruition here in North Texas. I've really enjoyed Foreign Extra, and plan to do a side-by-side tasting with Extra Stout. Keep your eyes on this space for thoughts on all of those, as well as write-ups of a few more Austin beers brought back from my trip for Fun Fun Fun (you can read my five blog posts about the music here, or about the great Black Star Co-op brewpub here).
First, though, there are two fall beer tastings coming up at the Meddlesome Moth and Ginger Man Pub. Even better, the Libertine is having a beer dinner featuring New York Belgian-style specialty brewery Ommegang Wednesday, and one creative City of Ater will win a pair of tickets.
The Meddlesome Moth will feature six different Belgian and Ommegang Belgian-style brews -- including a 2006 vintage abbey ale -- at 6 p.m. Monday, November 15, along with cured meats, cheeses and dessert. Featured are Duvel's new Triple Hop, Ommegang Biere de Mars, Ommegang Triple Perfection, Maredsous Triple-Chalice, a cave-aged Ommegang Abbey Ale from 2006 and N'Ice Chouffe. Sounds like a great opportunity to try some rare brews, and not a bad deal at $40 per person.
Ginger Man let us know that its fall tasting is scheduled for 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. next Saturday, November 20: "Come and sample from our eclectic collection of rare and hard to find ales. Meet with representatives of the brewery and vote for your favorite beers." Alas, the e-mail doesn't say which brewery is sending representatives. But with some great beers newly available at the 2010 Best Of Dallas Readers Pick Best Beer Joint, it's probably a safe bet that the featured beers will be tasty.
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And at 7 p.m. Wednesday, the Libertine's monthly beer dinner will feature Ommegang's 3 Philosophers, Hennepin, Witte, Rare VOS and new winter seasonal Adoration. Below is the menu, and below that are details on how you and a guest can get out of paying $50 apiece for the dinner.
First Course: Fig and prosciutto with reduced balsamic vinegar and black garlic
Second Course: Artichoke and lemongrass soup
Third Course: Wild mushroom ragout
Fourth Course: Seared duck breast with baby turnips in brown butter and celery root purée
Fifth Course: Pumpkin panna cotta with graham cracker dust
As did the contest for September's Libertine Oktoberfest beer dinner, this contest will award your beer creativity. Whoever comes up with the best idea for a winter beer and leaves a description in the comments section of THIS BLOG ENTRY (not on one of the Observer's 17 Facebook pages -- I don't think I've friend-requested all of them) wins a pair of tickets. It can be a joke idea, a disgusting gross-out idea or an idea so tasty that we rush over to Homebrew Headquarters to try to replicate it. Clever beer names strongly encouraged. See if you can top the last winner. Get your thinking caps on -- the contest ends at 4 p.m. Friday. And remember -- you can enter with a pseudonym, but we'll eventually need your real name and will need to contact you if you win, so be sure to use one of your real e-mail addresses when submitting your comment.
Update: The contest is now closed. We'll announce the winner on Monday.