ThirstyBear Releases Two Christmas Casks of Tolstoy’s Inkwell & Grizzly Bear

19 December 2016

imageFrom Thirsty Bear:

San Francisco, CA -- Monday, December 19, 2016 -- It might not be a white Christmas in San Francisco this year, but there's still plenty to celebrate with the holidays right around the corner. ThirstyBear Organic Brewery is 20 years deep into the annual tradition of brewing festive spiced ales to lift the winter spirits. Throughout the holiday season and well into January 2017, ThirstyBear releases two specialty Christmas casks of their TOLSTOY'S INKWELL (Russian Imperial Stout, 9.3% ABV) and GRIZZLY BEAR (Red Ale, 6.3% ABV).

The earliest versions of spiced ales were called "wassail," a warmed mead (ale brewed with honey) that evolved to become a mulled cider made with cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. It was used for "wassailing," a Medieval English drinking ritual. With the American Craft Brewing renaissance, the rebirth of spiced ales came in 1975 with Anchor Brewing Company's release of "Christmas Ale."

Every year since opening in 1996, ThirstyBear has produced a spiced ale. For 2016, Head Brewmaster Brenden Dobel cask conditions two ales with a rich malty sweetness with hints of caramel and chocolate, along with some alcoholic warmth. Cask conditioning allows ales to undergo a secondary fermentation inside the cask (i.e. the firkin) from which it is dispensed along with dry-hopping. For these specialty casks, Dobel "dry-hopped" the brews with ground whole cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and clove.

TOLSTOY'S INKWELL has massive amounts of Dark Crystal, Chocolate and Black malts along with Roasted Barley for a robust bittersweet chocolate/ molasses/espresso character. It's dry-hopped with English Fuggle hops to balance the malt character with an earthy and cedar like quality.

GRIZZLY BEAR is brewed with Munich, Wheat and Special B malts, the latter of which provides a dried fruit/raisin character that interacts well with the Christmas spices. It is hopped with the great American hops of Cascade, Centennial and Chinook offering notes of citrus and pine.

Come on into ThirstyBear this holiday season for much merriment and a taste of these premier small batch brews!

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