Merry crunk-mas

It’s getting colder with each passing day, meaning you must find a way to keep warm. You could crank the thermostat, start layering your clothing or warm yourself with alcohol consumption.

It’s getting colder with each passing day, meaning you must find a way to keep warm. You could crank the thermostat, start layering your clothing or warm yourself with alcohol consumption.

Though Pabst beer and Yellow Tail wine are always in season and inexpensive, the best way to boost holiday festival cheer is to shell out a few extra bucks for a winter drink, be it among friends in a room with merriment or by yourself, with just the low heat of your hearth and candlestick for company. Here is a rundown of winter drinks indigenous to Oregon and a few others from nearby worthy of swiggin’ in a winter wonderland.


Deschutes Brewery Jubelale
Bend, Ore.
This is an award-winning drink for many reasons. It’s got the sort of body you’d expect from a winter ale, and it follows through with rich flavor from first sip to last drip. Though sweet to the scent, Jubelale actually boasts a rather high bitterness rating and alcohol content, meaning it tickles the taste buds and packs a wallop for the liver. You’ll want to start slow and keep it that way, because too much Jubelale will overwhelm your belly: The thick, roasted hoppiness can lead to unwanted gut aches. It’ll get you trashed, to be sure, but no one likes to hold back the hair of someone offering up their regurgitated hop sauce to the porcelain gods.

Full Sail Brewery Wassail
Hood River, Ore.

Full Sail is a great brewery with a singular flaw: Too many of its beers lack body and distinction. They’re good, certainly, but there’s nothing to make them stand out, and the Wassail winter ale is no exception. Though it has a nice opening taste and a subtle, tasty finish, there’s just no substance in the middle of a sip or even a full chug to make it memorable. The bitterness and density ratings aren’t as openly displayed as most seasonals, but it’s a safe bet that they’re both low. The only real upside to this light content is that mass consumption is much easier to manage. Overall it’s not bad, but it ain’t great either.

New Belgium Brewery 2º Below
Fort Collins, Colo.

It’s impossible to craft a perfect brew, but New Belgium comes damn close with 2º Below. This winter ale blends Sterling and Liberty hops with roasted malts to great effect. It’s got some tang amid its subtle spiciness, but nothing to overwhelm the hops so remnant of sweetbread. It has the body of a proper dark ale without any of the kickback, meaning you can sip on this bad boy all night without losing yourself to the demons of drunken yuletide. It’s best to leave a six-pack of this glorious craft in the freezer for about 30 minutes prior to drinking, because the clarity of the hops and the buoyancy of the sweetness over its bitterness are only coaxed out at colder temperatures.

Widmer Brothers Brewery Snowplow
Portland, Ore.

This milk stout blends caramel malt and Willamette hops to create a rich, frothy brew that makes for a fine sipper. This is not a beer to chug, given that it is texturally heavy and slow to release its flavors. Let the beer sit at the front of your palate for a moment before drinking it deep, because the sweet taste can rush by if you drink it with too much gusto. At 17 degrees Plato, a system of measuring the beer’s density, Snowplow doesn’t muck about. So once its sweet tones of the first sip have faded, take in a full glug and let the texture wrap itself around your taste buds for the rest of a sweet and smooth pint.


Hinman Vineyards 2004 Rogue Valley Red Wine
Eugene, Ore.

This is a nice local red that blends five varietals (merlot, cabernet sauvignon, syrah, malbec and grenache) with dark fruits to create a full-bodied flavor. The aroma is a treat to any drinker’s nose, be it the snout of a vino veteran or casual grape-sauce slammer. It’s about $10 wherever you buy wine, and it’s available at most grocery stores or wine markets around Portland, without needing to back-order. It pairs well with holiday meals rich in dark meats (ham or steak come to mind) and starches. Note that it’s best to eat alongside this wine, because it’s a thick sumbitch that weighs in at 13.9 percent alcohol by volume.

Snoqualmie Vineyards 2006 Naked Riesling
Prosser, Wash.
**** 1/2

Also in the $10 neighborhood and easy to shop for, Snoqualmie offers a great Riesling that is neither too sweet nor too stale. And though Riesling is generally associated with summer, as are most white wines, this one pairs well with holiday festivities serving chicken or seafood. It’s got a mild tickle to it that doesn’t overwhelm, and its light content makes for a great introductory glass to budding wine connoisseurs. Moreover, it won’t get anyone snockered in a hurry, so this Riesling is a great inclusion with any wintertime frolic.


At its base, eggnog is just a super-sweet dairy concoction that leads to a funky aftertaste and some rank diarrhea. However, when blended with booze, eggnog becomes far more tolerable and enjoyable, so pick your poison and blend it with your ‘nog for a hearty holiday libation.

A common spike to eggnog is rum, and this makes for a tasty beverage that’s best when warm. Put a shot into a microwave-safe mug and then pour in some eggnog, nuke it for about 20 seconds and enjoy before a snow fight. Enough mugs of this, and you won’t even care that you’re soaked to the bone after 10 minutes of wintry war.

Some folks like to toss whiskey in with their eggnog, and these folks must have taste buds of steel. The frothy result of barley juice and beaten eggs can be a bit much to tolerate at once, but if you want to cowboy up your mug o’ ‘nog, use a bourbon or straight whiskey, depending on your preference. It helps to stir in some cinnamon for sweetness, or nutmeg if that’s your thing.

Finally, there is a contingent of booze hounds that like to blend brandy with their ‘nog. This is a personal opinion, but fucking gross. Brandy is basically over-sweet, under-tasty wine, and eggnog is basically over-creamy, under-quenching milk, meaning brandy-nog is bad-drink squared.