C-sons Greetings from Lompoc Brewing
Lompoc Holiday Beer Extravaganza November 27th, 4p-10p Lompoc Sidebar 3901a N. Williams Ave

Brewers Bryan Keilty, Irena Bierzynski and Josh Merrick have been hard at work to stuff your stockings with seven holiday seasonals! On Tuesday November 27th, these beers will be available at the Sidebar at the annual Lompoc Holiday Beer Extravaganza. Complimentary appetizers and sampler trays will be ready for consumption starting at 4pm.

Last week, some of the local beer media were invited to sample these upcoming holiday releases from Lompoc Brewing. We sampled six of the seven releases—Blitzen was still in the fermenter, a bit young for our preview. Jolly Bock and Franc'ly Brewdolph were both served directly from the bright tanks—all of the flavor components were there, they just need a little more time to settle down and co-mingle a bit in the tank. The releases cover a wide range of styles including: a lager, Belgian-style red, imperial IPA, barleywine, and wee heavy.

Brewer Josh Merrick © Jen PeckLompoc Holiday Bottle Releases © Jen PeckBrewer Bryan Keilty © Jen Peck

The winter holidays are always a big deal for Lompoc Brewing. Getting seven beers ready for simultaneous release is a big deal, especially for a brewery of this size. Juggling barrels,  fermenters and bright tanks is a logistical nightmare (Note: juggling barrels will not be an activity at the release party). Sure, holiday releases come out from every brewery in Portland, but there is no sane reason to release seven beers at the same time. Lompoc does this simply for the challenge and the love of beer.

With the exception of the Bourbon Barrel Wee Heavy, all of these beers are familiar holiday favorites. The big, bourbon forward wee heavy was brewed in collaboration with Ladies of Lagers and Ales (LOLA). From their website: "LOLA has set up brewery tours and special brewery tastings to expose its members to the wide variety of beer that Portland has to offer. LOLA has also set up collaboration brewing projects with local breweries in Portland. The group has been very proactive in the beer community to set a positive precedents for all involved in beer." While I was disappointed to see that Holiday Cheer—a delicious robust vanilla porter—was left off of this year's release list,  wee heavy more than made up for its absence.

Too many choices? Not if you head to the release party: grab a sampler and run the gamut of styles. 8 Malty Night has a great, chewy chocolate and rye base. Franc'ly Brewdolph shows off fruit and spice from the Belgian yeast mingling with oak and fruit from the Cabernet Franc barrels (though, oddly enough, I got more white wine flavors). C-Sons Greetings is one of my favorite imperial IPAs of the year: huge floral and citrus nose, nice grapefruit and spicy body, followed by a crisp finish. This year's Old Tavern Rat was brewed on the 5th Quadrant system instead of the usual NW system, which was not available as the old building was knocked down in order for the owner to rebuild. Lompoc will be reopening in the same spot, but don't worry, it will not reappear as a uber-slick NW version of it's old self—the way we lost BridgePort Brewing years ago. Lompoc has promised to keep the spirit of the old place alive in the new spot. However, recipe transition from the old system to the new system created a bit of a different beer in the Old Tavern Rat: much lighter in color and tasting more like an Imperial IPA and a Barleywine hybrid. Still delicious, just different.

The great thing about beer though, is that you get to make up your own mind. Lompoc is giving you the perfect opportunity to do all the research you need to do. Besides, Tuesday's suck and they're helping you fix that as well!

Holiday release beer descriptions from the brewery:

  • Blitzen (4.6% ABV) This spiced golden ale is infused with cinnamon, clove, lemon zest and fresh ginger. It is bright gold in color with a strong cinnamon aroma. The flavor mixes bready wheat malt character with underlying ginger notes and a hint of citrus.
  • Jolly Bock (7.3% ABV) This lager was brewed with a generous amount of Munich malt to develop the deep amber color and rich malt flavor. The malty profile is balanced with a spicy hop bitterness.
  • 8 Malty Nights (6.5% ABV) This Chocolate Rye beer features a roasted chocolate flavor and a sweet finish. It’s dark brown in color and lightly hopped with English style hops. Raise a glass and toast, l’chaim to Portland’s first and only Chanukah seasonal. Draft and bottles.
  • Franc’ly Brewdolph (7.6% ABV) This Belgian style red ale has a malty and creamy body. It was brewed in October 2011 with the Belgian Ardennes yeast strain and aged for a year in Cabernet Franc barrels. This will also be served at this year’s Holiday Ale Festival, Nov. 28 – Dec. 2 at Pioneer Courthouse Square.
  • C-sons Greetings (8% ABV) C-sons Greetings is a higher alcohol version of our popular C-Note Imperial Pale Ale, brewed and dry-hopped with even more of the seven "C" hops - Crystal, Cluster, Cascade, Chinook, Centennial, Columbus and Challenger. It features a deep copper color with a piney, citrusy, floral and resinous aroma. A rich caramel malt finish balances the full hop flavor and endless developing hop presence. Draft and bottles.
  • Old Tavern Rat (9.4% ABV) This dark, amber colored barley wine was aged for almost a year prior to its release. It has a strong bitterness that is balanced with the sweetness of caramel and toffee flavors.
  • Bourbon Barrel Aged Wee Heavy (7.5% ABV) Brewed in Dec. 2011, this not so wee Wee Heavy spent nine months in Heaven Hill Bourbon barrels. Dark and smoked specialty malts, along with 50 pounds of molasses, offer a deep malt base for this big beer. Overlaid with a pleasant bourbon aroma, this beer finishes lightly sweet with a warming sensation on the way down. We couldn't have done this one alone, and must thank our partners, The Ladies of Lagers and Ales, aka LOLA, for this collaboration brew.