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FuzzyBrew’s Favorites from the Winter Warmer

January 18, 2011 By: mike Category: Breweries, Events, Memphis, Opinion

Winter Warmer taster

We tried a lot of beers at the Memphis Brewfest Winter Warmer this past weekend, so picking our favorites was a tough assignment. Here’s what we came up with:

Mike’s Picks

1. Pliny the Elder, Russian River Brewing Company — I’ve heard so much about Russian River’s Pliny the Elder that I almost thought the skies would open up and angels would start singing when I took my first sip of this Double IPA. Well, all that did happen. It was amazing. Best beer of the day.

2. Festive Ale, SweetWater Brewing Company — Part of SweetWater’s “Catch ‘N Release” series, this strong ale has a hint of cinnamon and a load of malts that are perfect for sipping on a cold day.

3. Never Summer Ale, Boulder Brewing Company — Dark caramel malts, combined with lots of hops and a “top-secret brewmaster’s spice,” make this is a winter seasonal that you can’t put down.

4. Blind Pig, Russian River Brewing Company — With all the winter seasonals in the building, it was nice to try a really good IPA. The Blind Pig delivered a blast of citrus and floral aroma in a light, well-balanced brew.

5. Mogul Madness Ale, Rogue Ales — This winter ale tastes stronger than its 6.6% ABV and is my new favorite from the popular Newport, Oregon, craft brewery.

Grant’s Picks

1. Peach Lambic, Lindemans — I asked the lady serving us which of the frutiy lambics I should sample; this peach was recommended and did not disappoint. Aaaand it was served over ice cream. This may become a dessert staple in this house.

2. Pliny the ElderRussian River Brewing Company — This is a no-brainer. It was my second beer of the day (at the festival, that is) and would have been my first had I not lined myself up behind the wrong group of drunkards. I hope my recent homebrewed clone comes close.

3. Trappist Tripel Ale, Westmalle — Strong and tasty and super drinkable. Also totally palette-cleansing.

4. Gaelic Ale, Highland — Malty and somewhat hoppy. Very smooth and a nice reprieve from some of the overpowering brews I sampled. A great session beer.

5. Welcome Winter Ale, Samuel Smith — I love Sam Smith and passed this table over at first because I’m pretty familiar with their beers. But I’m glad the unfamiliar label drew me in. I’m not winter’s biggest fan, but I could surely cope better with more of this beer on hand.

Jeff’s Picks

1.  Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier — I’ve been reading the book, Smoked Beers, and just finished the part where they visit this brewery.  It absolutely lived up to its billing.  An insanely dense, smokey, bacon-like aroma blends perfectly into this Marzen-style beer.  I must have gone back to this beer 15 times at the festival.  A Rauchbier just jumped to the top of my to-brew list.

2.  Blind Pig, Russian River Brewing Company — This was the first time I’ve had this beer and I thought it was an incredible IPA.  If they told me I could walk around the festival and drink this beer only for the rest of the night, I would have done it.

3.  Pliny the Elder, Russian River Brewing Company — The last time I had this was in Portland, Oregon, a few years ago, and it was as bad-ass as I remember it then.  A classic Double IPA.

4.  Moo Hoo Stout, Terrapin Beer Co. –Another first-time beer.  I was really impressed by the smooth, chocolate flavor and aroma of this beer.  I will seek this one out on future travels.

5.  Mogul Madness Ale, Rogue — This beer stands out for the sheer fact that after two hours of drinking, it was able to elicit quite a reaction from my overloaded taste buds.  Citrusy hops and a wallop of malts combined for a complex ale that really hit me.  I was thinking this was a barleywine when I first tasted it.

What were your favorite beers from the Winter Warmer? Leave a comment below.

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6 Comments to “FuzzyBrew’s Favorites from the Winter Warmer”


  1. My favorite of the day was probably Piney the Elder. But I also loved getting to have my favorite beer of last year again, Sweetwater IPA. And it’s hard to beat peach beer over ice cream!

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  2. I went over to the Russian River table for the famous Piney the Elder but ended up falling in love with their Blind Pig. Sorry I didn’t jump on a second taste before it ran out.
    And the Moo Hoo Stout was very yummy. Beer that goes down like chocolate milk, cha-ching!

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  3. So are Russian River beers now available in the Memphis area? (Or have they been for awhilke and I’ve just been missing them?) I asked the folks at Joe’s about them, but that was a few months ago.

    Thanks for the write-up…wish I’d been able to attend!

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  4. No Russian river beers here. Hopefully some day.

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  5. Man!! I was out of town… but y’all are SO lucky you got the Russian River brews! Had Pliny and Blind Pig in California last year and stuffed as many as we could in our suitcase :)

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  6. Well dang, but thanks for updating. Hopefully RR will make it here sooner than later!

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