Archive for December, 2011

12 Beers of X-Mas: St. Bernardus Wit

Friday, December 30th, 2011

St. Bernardus WitFrom the brewers’ town of Watou, Belgium comes a witbier made by Brouwerij St. Bernardus.

The Wit looks much like cider with very hazy straw color. The bone-white head is somewhat thin. The aroma is light but complex. A spicy wheat berry character is supported by citrus, perhaps grapefruit. Bread and cloves round out the nose.

The flavor is likewise spicy, featuring cloves and black pepper. A serious acidic citrus flavor follows with orange, grapefruit, and maybe even lime. Some white bread flavor, and yet more spiciness. The palate is strongly effervescent, with just enough body to keep it from being sharp.

+St. Bernardus Wit

3.8 (4-8-7-3-16)

12 Beers of X-Mas: Capital Winter Skål

Thursday, December 29th, 2011

The winter offering from Capital Brewery in Middleton, Wisconsin is called Winter Skål. The name is a reference to the the Scandinavian toasting word skål, roughly the equivalent of cheers or prosit.Capital Winter Skål I’m imagining a horde of vikings singing merry songs while warming themselves with mugs of mead.

The Skål pours a lightly ruby-tinted gamboge color, and almost perfectly clear. There is just a bit of off-white head. A rich spicy and malty nose greets you immediately. Cinnamon and cloves are joined by well done toast and the aroma of something caramelizing. A bit of an earthy hop nose is present, and a bit of sulfur slightly impinges.

The “lagery” sulfuric character comes out more on the tongue, somewhat obstructing the malt flavor. Clove spice and some roast malt flavor are present, and an herbal, earthy hop taste comes through as well. The body is quite full, which seems out of place given the other qualities of this beer. Overall the Skål is not bad, but I think it could use a little more time in the lager tank to clean up.

+/-Capital Winter Skål

3.1 (2-7-6-3-13)

12 Beers of X-Mas: New Belgium Snow Day

Wednesday, December 28th, 2011

New Belgium Snow DayThe winter ale this year from New Belgium is an homage to those Midwest days where the snowfall makes life basically grind to a halt. This year, it seems like it might be a eulogy.

Snow Day pours a deep, dark chestnut brown with a creamy tan head. The aroma is mild and lightly sweet. Hazelnuts, caramel, and toast are the only detectable notes.

The flavor is clean and quaffable. Toasty, lightly spicy, and strongly effervescent.

+New Belgium Snow Day

3.7 (4-7-7-4-15)

12 Beers of X-Mas: Sam Adams/Weihenstephaner Infinium

Monday, December 26th, 2011

Sam Adams/Weihenstephaner InfiniumThe largest American craft brewery, Sam Adams, and the oldest brewery in Germany, Weihenstephan, have teamed up to produce a prize beer called Infinium. They are awfully secretive about the supposedly novel process used to make this beer. The end result is not that unlike champagne, or in fact, DeuS, another bright, bubbly golden ale. They may not have intended this to be a winter beer, but it will fit nicely into your holiday celebrations.

Infinium pours a very hazy golden yellow with a copper tint. The off-white head is thick and solid. A spicy nose greets you immediately, featuring cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice. A sweet bready maltiness follows, reminiscent of challah. This beer has the sort of mild yet complex aroma that makes you sit back and contemplate, content taking only a whiff.

The flavor of Infinium is likewise sweet and spicy, with some cinnamon and plenty of cloves. There is a significant alcoholic bite (reasonable, given it’s over 10%) which is restrained but invigorating. There are some floral and grassy noble hops as well. The palate is light, lively, and effervescent, but still rich and serious.

I shared several bottles with my family tonight, and here are some of their comments.

  • “Mild, yet wheaty…”
  • “…piquant…”
  • “…evolved…”
  • “…the smoothest ever…”
  • “A great dessert beer. Pairs well with chocolate.”

+Samuel Adams/Weihenstephaner Infinium

4.4 (5-9-7-4-19)

12 Beers of X-mas: Goose Island Christmas Ale

Sunday, December 25th, 2011

Since my original 12 Beers of X-Mas back in 2008, the idea has been taken up by many others, including Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, Peter at BetterBeerBlog, Dan Murphy with the Press-Register, and the guys over at beerschoolblog. Cheers!

Goose Island Christmas AleThis year’s 12 Beers of X-Mas begins with the 2011 Christmas Ale from Goose Island. The reverse label on my bottle of this American brown ale is upside-down. The obverse shows the goose with a Santa hat, encircled by holly and ivy.

The Christmas Ale pours a barely hazy copper brown. The tan head is generous, but not as solid as I would like. The nose is mild but complex. A spiciness is immediately evident, with cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg. A rich nutty and bready malt character follows, accompanied by a slight grassy hoppiness.

The grassy hop flavor stands out, assuring this beer a prominent place among American-style brown ales. The hops lend some bitterness, almost balanced by the nutty malt flavor. A spicy character and alcoholic bite add to the complex richness. An appropriate winter beer.

+Goose Island Christmas Ale 2011

3.6 (3-8-7-3-15)