While we were on our vacation last June Burwood Brewery had their Grand Opening in Walla Walla – which, of course, we missed. Their hours were fairly limited until August, when classes began and we began ramping up for Crush – but in September we finally made it there with some friends and we have returned several times since to partake of the excellent quality beer and fun, friendly atmosphere. In early October we participated in a Food Truck Night; beer, wine, excellent food and loads of people! It was a remarkably successful night.
Tuesday evening we had the great fortune to enjoy a holiday party with our Seven Hills Winery family at Burwood. Over Barrel Tasting Weekend, last weekend, a new beer was released “Punchy the Elf”, 7.2% ABV, 54 IBU in a ‘Winter Warmer’ style. Lovely rich malts, mild, balanced hops in a thick, dark beer with a dense, creamy head. I nursed this beer through my dinner knowing it was the only one I was going to have; until the end, when it was warm and the bitterness of the dark roasted malts caught up it was fantastic! Around me were lagers and ales dark or light, all excellent. I have had most of them at one time or another.
I have watched videos of champagne bottles being sabered, but I have not actually seen a live demonstration until this evening. Our wine maker, Casey McClellan, did the honors and we toasted a successful year, including harvest, for the winery with Aubry Premier Cru Brut, Champagne (lovely). It happened so fast my video wasn’t even playing and it was over! I was impressed to say the least; happy to have witnessed this and participated at some level in this tradition.
Dinner was catered and scrumptious – right down to a chocolate cake for dessert. But once we had supped and toasted our successes, one of our number (our main marketer, Erik) produced a bottle of Chimay Grande Reserve that he had purchased twenty years ago, bottled December of 1994 which he opened and shared with us. I am very fond of Belgian beers, especially the Chimay Grande Reserves (Blue labels), so this was amazing. A bottle of beer that was almost as old as my youngest child! (A bottle of beer from before I began my odyssey into this world of wine and beer.) It was a cloudy reddish-brown with a sour apple nose when first poured; slightly corked. That sour apple mostly blew off, revealing a chocolate covered raisin aroma and taste with a pie cherry finish to me. Not knowing what to expect, it was an intriguing experience.
The holiday season is meant to share, whatever you celebrate! Most of you won’t make it to Walla Walla to experience this beer or come into the Seven Hills Winery Tasting room, but it seemed appropriate to share with you this microcosm of cheer at a time when cold, gloomy weather and holiday stresses can zap the joy from us. We aren’t as small a winery as most I work with during Crush, but we aren’t large by the industry standards. Our owners, Casey & Vicky McClellan are very generous and kind people, besides being fantastic wine makers. I am thrilled to be a part of this enterprise for the last year. (If you recall, this was our only wine club membership for many years prior to my working here.)
Hope your holiday stress is minimal, your joys are many and you have people you enjoy sharing time with when you want to.