Sacrificing a big name label DOES NOT mean sacrificing quality; in fact, in the case of hyper-local artisan breweries, it can mean just the opposite. In the spirit of Small Business Saturday (Nov. 30), the Source recommends a few decadent beer-flavored gifts that are truly handmade—brews that are sure to make the holidays bubbly and bright. They also beat the heck out of a six-pack of Blue Moon.
Brewer Paul Arnery has been cranking out old-school open fermentation beers at what he calls his "cottage instead of a factory" off Skyliner Road since 2011. He now boasts five mixed fermentation beers (Sahalie, LaTache, Sahati, El Cuatro, and Spencer) between 7% and 14% ABV, all packed with immensely complex and totally unique flavors. Bottles run at about $20 or just over, but the pretty pennies are worth the detail Arney puts into his beer—from the bottle's custom labels and corks to the delicate and delicious layers of flavor.
Below Grade defines its brewery as "seriously underground," and with an output of just over 50 barrels a year, it's hard to argue. Head brewer Dean Wise provided the Source with two holiday suggestions for two very different gifts.
The Best Seller: Validation Imperial IPA, 7.9% ABV
In the vein of the Northwest Imperial India pale ales with a very prominent hop character layered on wonderfully malty backbone.
Something New: Identity Crisis Farmhouse style Sour IPA, 7.4% ABV
This beer goes through a standard primary fermentation, and then a secondary wild open fermentation for 45 to 60 days giving the beer citrus, pineapple and sour notes.
$6-$7 for a 22-ounce. bottle. Below Grade is available at Newport Market and Broken Top Bottle Shop.