Schooner EXACT Brewing Company was born brewing a Christmas beer. Today they have two Christmas beers, Hoppy Holidays and Hoppy the Woodsman. I stopped by the brewery in Seattle for a taste.
Owner and brewer Matt McClung began by brewing Hoppy Holidays Winter Ale to give to his friends. The response was so positive that Matt launched Schooner EXACT, brewing other styles of beer as well. A few years ago, Schooner EXACT went a step further by aging Hoppy Holidays in oak bourbon barrels to produce Hoppy the Woodsman. I’ll describe them both.
Hoppy Holidays is a strong American ale with aggressive hops typical of a West Coast brewery and a lot of toasted malts. It is a winter warmer with rich, dark toasted malts that taste of toffee, nuttiness, cocoa and finishing with a touch of hop bite. It weighs in at 55 IBU with 7.5% ABV alcohol adding an overall warmth. The recipe for Hoppy Holidays has changed over the past 11 years to better balance the hops with more toasted malts to extend the ageability of the beer.
Hoppy the Woodsman is made by barrel-aging Hoppy Holidays in Jack Daniel’s oak bourbon barrels for 6 months. The result is a wonderful fusion of West Coast hop-preference with dark Belgian toasted malty sweetness. Hoppy the Woodsman pours dark burgundy with a slight head. There is toffee, cocoa and vanilla on the nose. It tastes of toasted malts, caramel, vanilla, cherry, nuttiness, with brandy. Yakima Valley hops are present, but not as pronounces as in Hoppy Holidays. The 8% ABV warms the glass without any excessiveness. It is smooth with light carbonation and medium-long finish.
2013 marks the first year Hoppy the Woodsman is available in 22oz bottles. – I hear the elves cheering.
If you are looking for a true Christmas beer with a West Coast spin, Hoppy Holidays and Hoppy the Woodsman are for you.
Question: What do you think of Schooner EXACT’s Christmas beers? You can leave a comment by clicking here.