Imagine a rich, dark beer that tastes like a black forest cake or a chocolate covered cherry--made with local malted barley, oatmeal, tart cherries, and chocolate nibs. That describes this year's holiday ale from Bemidji Brewing.
The base beer for this infusion, a rich export stout, was aged on over 50 pounds of whole cherries grown by Honeyberry Farm in Bagley, MN, and 25 pounds of cocoa nibs from Terroir Chocolate in Fergus Falls.
The stout contains malted barley from Vertical Malt, a craft malting company based in Fisher, MN that grows and malts their own brewing grains. It also contains flaked oats from Grand Forks, ND.
"The cool thing about it," says Bemidji Brewing's Head Brewer, Tom Hill, "Is it's a beer first and a fruit-and-chocolate beer second--so it's not like it's a fruit drink or a dessert beer, even though it could certainly play that role. It could still stand up to being in a pint glass on the Thanksgiving table along with the main meal. But with the ingredients in there it's tough to pass up pairing it with pie or cheesecake--it'd be a fantastic pairing!"
Each year Bemidji Brewing makes a different beer for the holidays. The release party for this year's locally-sourced holiday ale is Friday, November 17 at Bemidji Brewing. It's called Warm Hearts/Full Taster, and it's a benefit for the Bemidji Food Shelf. Those who bring a non-perishable food item, personal care item, or cleaning product will be rewarded with a 5 ounce taster of holiday ale or other beer of their choice.
For more about Bemidji Brewing, including the story of how Tom Hill became a brewer and how the business started and grew, check out the interview below.