San Francisco, CA — 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!
ThirstyBear Organic, Small Batch Beers Are Available Fresh, Only On Draught, Only At ThirstyBear!
About ThirstyBear Brewing Co.
Established in 1996, ThirstyBear Organic Brewery is the first and only brewery in San Francisco to brew certified organic beer and become a certified Green Business. Born out of Founding Brewmaster Ron Silberstein’s commitment to support sustainable agriculture, ThirstyBear brews CCOF and FDA certified organic beer with the hops and grains carefully sourced from the world’s most renowned malt houses and premier West Coast organic hop farms to provide innovative, distinctive and always delicious flavors. ThirstyBear pairs its hand-crafted beers with equally exquisite Spanish cuisine. Since 2002, Silberstein has collaborated with Brewmaster and Certified Cicerone Brenden Dobel to define a singular German-influenced West Coast style of brewing, with a special emphasis on pilsners, ales, IPAs, stouts, Belgian-inspired ales, cask conditioned ales, session beers, and barrel aged brews. Dobel’s expertise with German beer styles is the result of his extensive training at Doemens Brewing Academy in Munich, Germany.
As one of the first critically acclaimed Spanish tapas restaurants to open in the Bay Area, ThirstyBear’s Executive Chef Robert McCarthy serves some of the City’s top paella, tapas, charcuterie/cheese and beer pairings, flatbreads, 100% grass-fed beef burgers, and specialty dishes prepared not only with beer, but with beer’s raw ingredients (hops, malts, yeast). In addition to its constantly rotating lineup of specialty, seasonal and classic craft beers, ThirstyBear also proudly serves local wines from kegs to reduce its overall carbon footprint.
According to the Brewers Association, which keeps the most comprehensive information on craft breweries in the United States, ThirstyBear brews and serves more craft beer in-house than any other brewpub in San Francisco. ThirstyBear celebrated its 20th Anniversary in September 2016 as San Francisco’s longest operating brewery-restaurant.