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Co-op brew corner

Co-op Brew Corner: Treat Yourself

Thanksgiving may be on the horizon, but many craft breweries are delivering early (and tasty) gifts. When some of us are just starting to think about the upcoming holiday season, take time to browse our craft beer and cider aisle for some ideas to treat yourself.

Available from October through December, get these limited release brews now. And save some for later. They’re here now, but when they’re gone you’ll have to wait a whole year…

Cozy Sweater Vanilla Milk Stout

from Iron Horse Brewing of Ellensburg, WA ~ 4.5% alcohol by volume / 7 IBU ~ it certainly is sweater weather out there. Think of Cozy Sweater as the beer equivalent of tossing on your favorite knitwear. Bucking the trend of higher alcohol winter brews, Cozy Sweater is a sessionable, smooth drinking stout with a few twists.

Snuggle up with this harmonious combination of mild hops and chocolate malts. Iron Horse also adds lactose for a smooth and rounded mouthfeel, and a hint of earthy vanilla. Cozy Sweater has a roasty sweetness that compliments a variety of foods, from oysters on the half shell to cream-based desserts.

Pair it with: roasted squash dishes, hearty meat stews or spiced pumpkin cheesecake.

Sleigh’r Dark Double Alt Ale

from Ninkasi Brewing of Eugene, OR ~ 7.2% alcohol by volume ~ 60 IBU ~ Seize the season with Sleigh’r’s layers of deeply toasted malt are balanced by Nugget hops. Deceivingly drinkable and paired with a dry finish, Sleigh’r is not a typical winter brew. Sleigh’r is an alt ale, a bit of a hybrid style of beer fermented with ale yeast at colder lagering temperatures. This effect gives Alts a more refined, crisp lager-like flavor than traditional ales. The Alt has been “Ninkasified” raising the ABV and IBUs. Sleigh’r has a deep, toasted malt flavor that finishes dry and balanced.

Sleigh’r has a deep, toasted malt flavor that enhances many home made dishes. Use it in place of stock for a rich soup base or try making a reduction with the beer: cook uncovered in a saucepan over low heat for 15-20 minutes until it reduces to a syrup. Or make Ninkasi’s own Sleigh’r Balls, a quick and easy cocoa-spiked nutty dessert. The beer draws out the tannins in the walnuts and pecans, and compliments each other’s dry finish. The bitterness of the cocoa is balanced by the maltiness of the beer and offers a sweet, toffee flavor.

Pair it with: strong cheese, beef dishes or chocolate cake.

It’s here, for a limited time…

Brown Shugga

from Lagunitas Brewing of Petaluma, CA ~ 9.7% alcohol by volume / 51.5 IBU ~ this legendary seasonal offering comes from one of the West Coast’s most trusted microbreweries. Brown Shugga is, as it bills itself: a “dangerously slammable” special ale.

Celebrating its 20th anniversary, this high octane craft brew is made with an unlikely combination of real brown cane sugar, fed to cultured brewer’s yeast, balanced by a good amount of Northwest grown Cascade, Centennial, Liberty, Horizon and Willamette hops. This year’s batch tastes like a chocolate-covered apricot, with a hint of burnt sugar.

Pair it with: baked Holiday treats with spices, braised lamb shanks or Brown Shugga-fied Baked Candied Yams.

By: Claire

Claire

Claire Harlock Garber loves to eat and drink and write about it. She has worked in the food industry for nearly a decade and has been on staff at the Skagit Valley Co-op since 2010. She writes the regular columns Skagit Brew Corner, The Cheese Whisperer, The Bounty of Bulk, and What’s Dippin’ in the Well for the Co-op’s blog, as well as articles for the Natural Enquirer newsletter. Contact Claire at claire(at)skagitfoodcoop(dot)com.