Two Front Teeth Holiday Ale

| No Comments

So I bought this beer last summer. Damned if I remember why I bought it then, but I did. Heck, I've never even really heard of the brewery (as it turns out, they're a very small, semi-local brewery)... But it's been sitting in my fridge since then, and it actually seemed appropriate for New Years, so here we are.

Why is it a New Years beer? When you hear the phrase "Holiday Ale" you're probably thinking about something that's Christmassy. Darkish beer with spices and/or lots of warming alcohol, with maybe the odd imperial red ale making an appearance. But there's definitely a different connotation for New Years. When it comes to alcohol, people tend to think of Champagne as the spirit of choice for that holiday. Jim from the Beer & Whisky Brothers blog recently laid out his 5 Rules for New Years Beer and while I normally find such proclamations kinda silly, I thought I'd play along anyway. Because I'm a silly guy, after all.

So let's see here. The beer is corked, so check that off. The label is a bit iffy. It's well designed and everything, but it's not like a fancy, classy Champagne label. It is light colored and as it turns out, you can see through it, so we're back on track. It's definitely quite effervescent and bubbly, so there's another criteria met. The name "Two Front Teeth" isn't quite nasty, but neither is it properly festive, unless you're hanging out with a bunch of hockey players for new years. So that's a strong 3 out of 5, with the other two criteria on the borderline. Call it 4 out of 5. Not too shabby:

Spring House Two Front Teeth

Spring House Two Front Teeth Holiday Ale - Pours a bright, clear golden color with tons of fluffy head. Smells deeply of musty Belgian yeast and typical banana/clove aromas. Taste is candy sweet with a punch of spiciness and a nice dry finish. There are definite hints of fruitiness in the taste, but I'm not getting any cherries out of this. As it warms, that fruitiness becomes more pronounced, but I still couldn't pick out cherries... It's light colored, but it feels a bit on the heavy side. Medium to full bodied and a little alcohol warming effect, but still smooth. Not an everyday beer, but it's working well as a new years beer! From what I've heard about this beer, I'd like to try a fresh bottle of this stuff, as it seems like it may have mellowed out in my fridge after such a long stay... B+

Beer Nerd Details: 9.75% ABV bottled (750 ml caged and corked). Drank out of a goblet on 12/31/11. No date on the bottle, but I'm guessing it was bottled in late 2010.

Interestingly enough, the past two years worth of New Years beer for me have been strong saison style beers (last year's being Avec Les Bons Voeux de la Brasserie Dupont, a hard beer to beat and one of my favorite beers period, let alone holiday beers). They do strangely seem to fit the mold. I'd also assume that a light colored sour beer would work - think Russian River Temptation (I suspect Jim would take issue with the name of the beer and the Scythe imagery on the label, but who cares what he thinks). In fact, that beer is quite champagne-like. Perhaps if I can't find a new saison for next year...

Fireside Chat

| 2 Comments

I had this beer last year and was quite taken with it. It didn't blow me away or anything, but it had a C+ on Beer Advocate at the time, which struck me as dreadfully underrated. BA seems to have upended the cart by using, like, 3 different rating scales now, none of which are the old letter grading system that was being used last year. Right now it's got a 74 (out of 100), which still seems awfully low. What have these 21st Amendment people done to inspire such ire? Is this beer made with the venom of an endangered species? Perhaps it's brewed solely with illegal immigrants in a sweatshop? Is this beer an elaborate money laundering scheme for mobsters? What's going on here?

I will say that it wasn't quite as great as I remembered from last year. Perhaps this could be attributed to it being on tap last year, or perhaps I got a fresher can and by the time I got my hands on it last year, it had mellowed out some... But it's certainly not as bad as BA is indicating... Well, anyway, here goes:

21st Amendment Fireside Chat

21st Amendment Fireside Chat - Pours a dark brown color with amber highlights and a finger of tan head. Lots of holiday spices in the nose - cinnamon, clove, and the like. Taste is sweet, with some caramel malt character and just a hint of roastiness. The finish is spicy and dry, with more bitterness than I remembered from last year. Medium bodied and well carbonated, this one hides its relatively high ABV well. Overall, it's a really solid winter warmer style beer. I'm slightly less impressed with it out of the can, but it's still much better than the relatively craptacular ratings it garners on BA. I'll give it a B

Beer Nerd Details: 7.9% ABV canned (12 oz). Drank out of a tulip on 12/24/11. Unfortunately no Fireplaces were available during consumption.

There you have it. Up next on this brewery's front is Allies Win the War - 21A's collaboration with Ninkasi (with whom I'm entirely unfamiliar, as they don't distribute here). I bought one of the gorgeous 4 pack boxes of that beer, so I've already had one and quite enjoyed it. I'll probably be drinking another for actual evaluation purposes soon.

2011 Year End Musings

| 2 Comments

As 2011 comes to a close, everyone and their mother is putting out top 10 lists and recaps for all manner of subjects, including beer. Here at Kaedrin, we're usually pretty lazy about it. Over on my generalist blog, I always put together a top 10 movies of the year list, but it usually doesn't come out until February. In that case, it's because I'm trying to catch up with movies on DVD/BD/Streaming/Torrents/etc..., but beer is a different matter entirely. For one thing, beer isn't released the way movies are, and while I've certainly had my fair share of one-off 2011-only brews, most of what I drank this year has been around for a while. So I've been lazily compiling a couple of lists, all based only on what I drank this year.

As such, this post will be an intensely personal affair, entirely dependent on my 2011 consumption. Almost everything in this post will be represented in my archives somewhere, because as a true nerd, I've done a pretty good job about documenting the beers I drank this year. Before I get to my top beers of the year, I thought I'd spend some time musing on the trends of the year. Not necessarily trends of the whole craft beer world, just my own personal tastes.

  • Stouts - When I began beer blogging a little over a year ago, I wasn't much of a fan of stouts or porters. But I forced myself to try some, and the more I tried, the more I enjoyed, especially when it comes to imperial stouts. There are still some varieties that I don't love, particularly stouts that emphasize coffee flavors (I'm looking at you, Founders Breakfast Stout), but I've really come to enjoy strong, dark beers over the last year.
  • Barrel Aged Beer - In particular, bourbon or scotch barrel aged beers have become a bit of an obsession (wine barrel aged beers with wild yeasts/bacteria are a different story, see below). One sure-fire way to trick me into buying your beer is to make a bourbon barrel aged version. Unfortunately, this sometimes leads to cattle calls or paying through the nose, but I'm willing to jump through some hoops for beer this good. I know some folks think bourbon barrel aging has gone too far, and there's something to be said for harnessing a balance of flavors (which some barrel aged beers emphatically do not accomplish), but I think my tolerance for bourbon/scotch flavors is higher than most. I kinda love these beers. This is something that I imagine will continue to explore through 2012...
  • Aging/Cellaring Beer - As evidenced by a few recent posts, I've been toying with the concept of aging beer in my basement. Conditions are apparently not entirely ideal down there, but I tend to buy more than I can drink, so sometimes this happens by accident. I intend to cover the subject in more detail in a separate post (including a list of beers I'm currently saving), as it's an interesting practice.
  • Homebrewing - I brewed 5 batches of beer in 2011. This roughly translates to once every 2-3 months and even that has left me with 3-4 cases of beer in my basement. I think my next step is to try making smaller batches more frequently. Speaking of which, I should really get cracking on my next batch!
  • The Discovery of Barleywines - I never quite knew what to make of this style, and owing to the extremely high ABV, these aren't exactly every day beers, but some of my biggest discoveries and surprises this year were barleywines. I don't expect to go crazy with the style in 2012 - again, very high ABV beers require certain circumstances - but I'll most definitely be exploring the style a little more in 2012 (and hey, the style often gets the bourbon barrel treatment, so there's that too!)
  • Sour Experimentation - I've really only gotten my feet wet with my exploration of sour beers. I've enjoyed a lot of what I've had, but only one has really knocked my socks off (the Sierra Nevada ExPortation). Expect more exploration in 2012, though I can't say as though these beers have really captured my imagination the way other styles have.
  • Finding my White Whales - When I started this blog, I was a little frustrated by reading about beers I could never find anywhere. Well, somewhere along the way, I started to get a sense for how to find me some white whale beers. My list of beer purveyors has increased significantly over the year, and the ridiculous PLCB rules notwithstanding, Philly is a pretty bitchin beer town.

Well, there you have it. It's been a great year, filled with a ton of great beers. So great, in fact, that I couldn't quite bring myself to put together a top 10. I mean, seriously? I wrote somewhere on the order of 170 posts this year, and some of those contained multiple beers (including some with 10+ beers), meaning that I have somwhere on the order of 200-250 beers to choose from. Narrowing the list down to 30 was hard enough. All of the below beers have been reviewed, and I'm linking to each one. They're all at least an A- on my grading scale, and they're being listed from best to "worst", though I'd like to emphasize that the order is relatively fluid in my mind. Some of the beers on the bottom of the list could easily float up towards the middle or even top of the list, depending on my mood... Indeed, I could probably add another dozen beers to the list with no real problem. So take it with a grain of salt and if you want to see more, check out the A- archive.

Bottom line, though, is that these are all exceptional beers in one way or another.

  1. Trappistes Rochefort 8 (Belgian Strong Dark Ale)
  2. Harviestoun Ola Dubh Special Reserve 40 (Old Ale)
  3. Avec Les Bons Voeux de la Brasserie Dupont (Saison)
  4. BrewDog and Mikkeller Collaboration: Devine Rebel (Barleywine)
  5. Victory V-Twelve (Belgian Specialty Ale)
  6. La Trappe Quadrupel (Quadrupel)
  7. Ommegang Rare Vos (Belgian Pale Ale)
  8. The Bruery Autumn Maple (Belgian Fruit/Vegetable Beer)
  9. Ommegang Three Philosophers (Quadrupel)
  10. Trappistes Rochefort 6 (Belgian Strong Dark Ale)
  11. Iron Hill Kryptonite (Double India Pale Ale)
  12. Trappistes Rochefort 10 (Belgian Strong Dark Ale)
  13. Victory Dark Intrigue (Imperial Stout)
  14. Chimay Grand Reserve (Blue) (Belgian Strong Dark Ale)
  15. Sierra Nevada ExPortation (American Wild Ale)
  16. Allagash Big Little Beer (Belgian Pale Ale)
  17. The Bruery Mischief (Belgian Strong Pale Ale)
  18. Cape Ann Fisherman's Imperial Pumpkin Stout (Pumpkin Ale/Imperial Stout)
  19. St. Bernardus Watau Tripel (Tripel)
  20. Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout (Imperial Stout)
  21. St. Bernardus Prior 8 (Dubbel)
  22. Pretty Things Baby Tree (Quadrupel)
  23. Russian River Pliny the Elder (Double India Pale Ale)
  24. Uinta Cockeyed Cooper (Barleywine)
  25. Lost Abbey The Angel's Share (American Strong Ale)
  26. Lagunitas Hop Stoopid (Double India Pale Ale)
  27. Mikkeller I Beat yoU (Double India Pale Ale)
  28. La Chouffe (Belgian Strong Pale Ale)
  29. Dogfish Head Burton Baton (Double India Pale Ale)
  30. Victory Hop Wallop (Double India Pale Ale)

It's no Beer Samizdat 100, but it's a start! Hopefully, it will be up to 50-60 beers by next year... In any case, this concludes my 2011 beer wrapup. Still a few more beers to be drunk, and I need to figure out a beer that fits New Years, but I'll include those in next year's recap (like I did above with Dupont's Bon Voux). Here's to a great 2012.

Samichlaus Double Feature

| No Comments

I discovered this beer last year and somehow manged to get my hands on a few bottles to lay down. Since it was such a rich, malty, boozy, almost syrupy beer, I figured that laying it down in my basement for a year would do it some good. And, of course, I needed a basis for comparison, so I picked up a few bottles of the most recent incarnation as well.

Unlike the annual Holiday beers I've been having lately, this one is brewed with the same recipe every year, so drinking these two different versions actually does represent a "vertical" tasting. To recap the beer's background: it's only brewed once a year, on December 6 (for the uninitiated, that's the feast day of Saint Nicholas, hence the name of the beer.) It is then laid down to mature in cold cellars for at least 10 months. This is an extremely long period of secondary fermentation, owing to the beer's extraordinarily high original gravity (apparently around 1.224), which of course leads to an obscenely high alcohol content (14% - thank goodness I was able to get the small bottles for this tasting). Michael Jackson speculates that "the brew is moved from one lagering tank to another, in order to restart the secondary fermentation. The brewery is coy about this, but the fact is that conventional methods will not easily make a beer so strong." This is indeed quite true. Most beer yeasts start to crap out once the beer reaches 9 or 10% ABV, and thus the brewer needs to be tricky to coax more out of the yeast. There are a lot of techniques for doing this, including the use of a more tolerant champagne yeast to finish off the beer. But the brewers of Samichlaus instead prefer to use patience and time (and apparently agitation during the lagering process).

It's not entirely clear to me when this beer is bottled. The labels for the beers showing up on shelves in 2011 said "bottled in 2010". When you consider that this beer is brewed in December, I'm not sure if that means that this year's beer was originally brewed in December 2009, or if the lengthy 10 month aging process all happens in the bottle. Well, whatever the case, the years listed below are what the label says.

Samichlaus 2010

Samichlaus (2010) - Pours a clear amber color with just a hint of head. Smells strongly of clean, dark fruits, along with some general malt-based sweetness and alcohol. The taste is sticky sweet and clean. That muted fruitiness is here in the taste too, maybe raisons or plums. There's a strong alcohol component to the taste, an almost rum-like character. As it warms, complexities emerge. Caramel, brown sugar, and more fruit. The mouthfeel is smooth and slick - actually better than it was on tap, perhaps more carbonation here this time around. The finish is very sticky and sweet, almost syrupy, but it never quite reached cloying, which is good. The alcohol provides a nice warming feeling as you drink. Overall, this year's variety is just as good as I remember, and even more complex. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 14% ABV bottled (11.2 oz). Drank out of a tulip glass on 12/23/11. Bottled in 2010.

Samichlaus 2009

Samichlaus (2009) - Pours a clear amber color, maybe a little darker than the newer vintage, with that same minimal head. The smell is similar, though perhaps a little cleaner. That sweet fruitiness and alcohol seem a little more well balanced here, but it's a subtle difference (if there's a difference at all). The taste is also very similar, with that dark fruitiness and sugary character. The real difference is in the mouthfeel, which is a little more creamy than the newer versions. Less sticky and more creamy. Definitely a better balanced version. I'm really glad I still have a few bottles of this year's vintage which I can try in a few years, as I'm sure it will get even better. For now, I'll say that I'm enjoying this more than the 2010 version, but the differences are subtle. Also a B+, but again, this one's slightly better... Perhaps in another year, this one will reach an A-...

Beer Nerd Details: 14% ABV bottled (11.2 oz). Drank out of a tulip glass on 12/23/11. Bottled in 2009.

Well, there you have it. I was drinking these as I wrapped presents and watched Christmas movies, so I had paced myself rather well throughout the night... and I still got pretty well drunk. These things happen. I still have 3 bottles of the 2009 and one of the 2010. I do believe this will become a nice annual tradition in the Kaedrin household. I really can't wait to try one of these 2009 beers a few years from now to see how well the flavors marry.

Fantôme De Noël

| No Comments

Brasserie Fantôme, they of the farmhouse saison, is a strange beast. According to Beer Advocate, they currently produce 24 different beers - 20 of which are saisons. And I suspect that most of them are funky, wild saisons (as opposed to super spicy or super dry saisons). I've had a few of their offerings before, but they're hard to find and the labels usually aren't in English (seriously, look at all those accents and umlauts and stuff*) and I never really know what I'm getting. Mysterious stuff but the beer nerds seem to love the beer and all the labels have this mischievous looking ghost on them and what's not to like? I've already talked about the surprise of my first Fantôme experience, and my most recent experience was also surprising, though this time in less of a good way. As Christmas beers go, this one is definitely of the "make it stronger" variety - it's the highest ABV beer they make. Unfortunately, it wasn't carbonated very well:

Fantome De Noel

Fantôme De Noël - Pours a surprisingly dark color for a saison. A cloudy brown colored beer with minimal head (seriously, a vigorous pour produced next to no head). Aroma is full of tangy sour smells with a lot of sweetness in the nose as well. Taste is not nearly as sour as I expected from the nose, but there is a tart, tangy character to it. It's very sweet tasting though, with some spicy complexities emerging as it warms. The mouthfeel is very disappointing though. It's light on the carbonation, which makes it a little too syrupy. This is really unfortunate, as the rest of the beer feels like it would be fantastic if only there was some more carbonation... It was certainly drinkable and it's not like I didn't finish the bottle or anything, heck I even enjoyed it, but I was still bummed. B-

Beer Nerd Details: 10% ABV bottled (750 ml capped and corked). Drank out of a tulip on 12/17/11.

As with all things Fantôme, I don't really know what to make of this. Is it supposed to be undercarbonated? Did I just get a bad bottle? Even if it was just a bad bottle, does that indicate lax QA on their part? According to the label, head brewer Danny Prignon changes the recipes for his beers every year. Does that mean that next year's Noël beer could be much better? Strangely, I don't think I'll mind testing that out next year (assuming I can find a bottle). It's all part of the mystique, I guess.

* All two of 'em!

Yule Smith Winter

| No Comments

Somehow, Alesmith makes two different beers that are both named Yule Smith. And one of them comes out in the summer. Now, the word "Yule" is derived from a Germanic winter festival that was absorbed by Christmas (one of many such occurrences), so the summer one doesn't really make much sense unless you consider the dubious holiday of Christmas in July an event worth celebrating. Then again, if it's an excuse to make good beer, who am I to complain?

What we have here, though, is the actual Christmas version of the beer. Apparently both varieties are hoppy, imperial ales, with the summer incarnation being a DIPA and this winter one being an imperial red ale. In my recently formulated hierarchy of holiday beers, this one represents category three - the do whatever the hell you want and call it holiday beer approach. I guess red is a color associated with Christmas, so there's that.

Alesmith Yule Smith Winter

Alesmith Yule Smith (Winter) - Pours a dark reddish brown color with a finger of whitish head. Smells strongly of sweet, fruity hops. Maybe even a little pine. Taste starts very sweet, with some of that hoppy fruit and sticky pine. Then you get a small dose of bitterness. Nothing overpowering, but it's prominent. A nicely balanced beer. Body is full, and you get that sticky resin feeling too. Overall, I find this quite enjoyable and the strong hoppy character was a welcome change of pace. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 8.5% ABV bottled (22 oz. bomber). Drank out of a tulip on 12/16/11.

As it turns out, this was my first Alesmith beer. And it's made a good impression too, so much so that I think my next homebrew might end up being an imperial red. Anyways, I'll definitely want to pick up some of the summer Yule Smith, and I know folks seems to love the Speedway Stout as well.

Ølfabrikken Jule Ale

| 2 Comments

I've been drinking and reviewing lots of holiday beer recently, so I thought I'd take a step back and think about what makes a holiday beer a holiday beer. There are, of course, no easy rules for holiday beers, but there are a few approaches that seem to work really well.

Approach the first: spice the hell out of it. This is usually done to a style that focuses on malts. The spices and malts lend a warming sensation (hence the "Winter Warmer" style). Approach the second: make it stronger. This seems to be a Belgian thing. Oh, it's Christmas? Let's make our dubbel, but give it 3% more alcohol. That'll be fun. Of course, Belgian beers are often spiced and those distinctive Belgian yeasts also contribute some spicy character to beer, so there is that too. What you end up with is a spicy, malty, boozy treat, and with all the alcohol, you can really get that warming sensation going.

Then there's approach the third: do whatever the hell you want! This is typified by Sierra Nevada's Celebration, in which they just decided to do a strong, hoppy, reddish IPA thing and slapped a holiday label on the bottle. Nothing particularly festive about it, but it somehow manages to work anyway (we're going to see at least one more of these before the year ends).

I tend to prefer approach 2 (see: Ommegang Adoration, Affligem Noel, St. Bernardus Christmas, etc...), but approach 1 has its charms as well (see: Anchor's Christmas Ales and my own take on the style). The third category has some wonderful beers, but I also don't find much holiday charm in there either.

Anywho, browsing the international section of State Line Liquors, I spotted this bottle from Ølfabrikken and bought it on a whim (insert nerdy joke about the null set here). As it turns out, this is a beer of the first approach, and one of the finer examples of that style:

Olfabrikken Jule Ale

Ølfabrikken Jule Ale - Pours a dark reddish brown color with a finger or so of quickly disappearing off-white head. The aroma is great. Rich malts, bready yeast, some spiciness, and even some piney hops. The taste isn't quite as complex as the nose, but there's still a lot to enjoy here. Sweet malt backbone, some of that spiciness, and a fair amount of hop character. Not a ton of bitterness, but the fruity, piney hop character flavors are certainly there. Mouthfeel is a little strong to start, but it mellows out as it warms. Overall, a very well executed beer, and a nice change of pace from the throngs of normal winter warmers. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 8% ABV bottled ( bomber). Drank out of a tulip glass on 12/16/11.

So I had never heard of Ølfabrikken before, but now that I've had this, I'm interested in sampling more of the Denmark brewer's offerings. Indeed, Dave seemed to really enjoy their porter, which only makes me want to take another trek down to Maryland to get me some...

Maudite

| 2 Comments

I know what you're thinking. This isn't a holiday beer! Well, it is one of Unibroue's year-round brews, but the story behind it is rather interesting. The word "Maudite" means "damned", and the story follows a group of French-Canadian woodsmen who made a deal with the devil to make it home by Christmas by flying their canoe (this is apparently a variation on a class of flying canoe legends). One of the woodsmen broke the pledge, and thus the canoe plunged to the ground. Pleasant story, eh? For a more detailed telling of the legend in a funny French-Canadian accent, check out the video on Unibroue's website. Anyway, let's drink this thing:

Unibroue Maudite

Unibroue Maudite - Pours a deep orange brown color with a lot of white head. Aroma is full of peppery Belgian yeast and dark fruits. Taste is very sweet, lots of that fruitiness coming through strong. Plenty of spiciness here too, and no real bitterness at all. Extremely well balanced taste here. Mouthfeel is a little on the harsh side (in a good way). In the past, I've always found this beer to be undercarbonated, but this time it seems just right. Overall, it's quite a nice beer. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 8% ABV bottled (11.2 oz). Drank out of a tulip glass on 12/10/11.

Unibroue has one of the best year-round lineups out there, and this one is widely available and usually pretty cheap too. Well worth a try this holiday season!

Mikkeller Santa's Little Helper 2010

| No Comments

Yet another annual Christmas ale that is vintage dated with a different recipe every year. In this case, brewer Mikkel Borg Bjergsø is a bit of a perfectionist. It's not a completely new recipe every year, but he does make small tweaks with each iteration. Details on the changes are sparse, but they generally seem to involve the spicing. Previous incarnations featured spices like cocoa, cinnamon, and coriander, but the 2010 version I had recently was apparently made with bitter and sweet orange peels and nutmeg. This sounds like it would be a big difference, but this is a huge, 10.9% ABV Belgian Strong Dark, so there's a big backbone to overcome. Like a lot of great Belgian beers, you can taste the complexity of the spicing, but you can't quite pick out what specific spices were used...

I bought this beer a while ago (early summer, perhaps?) and have been saving it for the holidays. So its time has come:

Mikkeller Santas Little Helper 2010

Mikkeller Santa's Little Helper 2010 - Pours a very dark brown color with a finger or so of light brown head. The aroma is very complex and quite nice. I'm picking up lots of vanilla, a little belgian yeast character and spiciness, maybe even some chocolate or roastiness. It smells like it will be full of rich flavors, and that is certainly born out in the taste. Sweet and spicy, with just a hint of that distinctive Belgian strong dark feel and spiciness. The twist here is the chocolate and roast flavors, which I typically don't love in my Belgian darks, but it's very well matched here. Just a hint of clean bitterness in the finish and aftertaste. Mouthfeel is full bodied but silky smooth. For such a strong beer, the booze is pretty well hidden. As it warms, it seems less Belgian and more Imperial Stout. Overall, a fantastic, well balanced but complex beer and a candidate for best Holiday beer of the year (though there are still some heavyweights to come)... A-

Beer Nerd Details: 10.9% ABV bottled (750 ml caged and corked). Drank out of a goblet on 12/10/11.

Well, I liked it enough that I picked up the 2011 version that same weekend, though I haven't drank that one yet. I doubt it will make it to next year though!

Sly Fox 2011 Christmas Ale

| No Comments

Well, what have we here? Another annual Christmas Ale with a recipe and label unique to that year? Well, don't mind if I do:

Sly Fox 2011 Christmas Ale

Sly Fox 2011 Christmas Ale - Pours a dark brownish red color with tons of billowy head. The smell is filled with spices (clove and ginger with a hint of cinnamon/nutmeg) and bready aromas. The taste starts with a carbonated bang, with the spices emerging quickly and some other flavors coming out a bit as the beer warms. But that mouthfeel is quite aggressive - carbonation is through the roof in the beginning, though it quickly smooths out in the relatively dry finish. If it weren't for the carbonation, I'd say this was a light to medium bodied beer, but the initial rush really does kick it up a notch. Not a revelation, but quite intriguing (and better than last year's variety, if I remember correctly)... B+

Beer Nerd Details: 6.5% ABV bottled (750 ml caged and corked). Drank out of a tulip glass on 12/9/11.

Seriously, this is like, what, the 4th Christmas beer I've had this year that is vintage dated with a new recipe every year? Not that I'm complaining (I actually rather like the switchups, though I could really go for a bottle of 3 French Hens right about now and that probably ain't gonna happen), but I did find it funny. My holiday beers this year have also skewed towards the winter warmery style, while last year was more of a Belgian Strong Dark affair. Well, I've got a few more posts in the pipeline and long weekend's worth a drinking ahead of me, so there's plenty of room for variety...

Categories

OpenID accepted here Learn more about OpenID

About

Hi, my name is Mark, and I like beer.

You might also want to check out my generalist blog, where I blather on about lots of things, but mostly movies, books, and technology.

Email me at mciocco at gmail dot com.

Follow me on Twitter

Like me on Facebook

Toast me on Untappd

Recent Comments

  • Mark: I think I remember you posting something about that back read more
  • Jay Hinman: Cool that you got to go to this, Mark. I read more
  • Mark: No, I obtained this through... methods. Glad I did, as read more
  • Jay Hinman: I don't think I sent this one to you, did read more
  • Mark: Apparently the popularity of single malt and the rise of read more
  • Padraic Hagan: I've had some real winners from the independants. A few read more
  • Mark: You know what the funny thing is? Upton no longer read more
  • Padraic Hagan: I don't...uh...none of my tea is certified, uh, poop free. read more
  • Mark: I've never disliked the bubblegum note (as evidenced by ratings), read more
  • Mark: Padraic will be here all week. 2 drink minimum, tip read more