Posts Tagged ‘christmas ale’

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)

12 Beers of X-Mas: St. Bernardus Christmas Ale

Friday, December 19th, 2008

I have been very slow with this beer series. Apologies.

From St. Bernardus in the brewing city of Watou comes the strong St. Bernardus Christmas Ale. St. Bernardus basically invented the modern Belgian “abbey” beer when in 1946 they took over the commercial production of the beers of abbey St. Sixtus. That is the monastery that produces Westvleteren Trappist ales, what many consider to be the finest beer in the world. Since that time beer brewed inside the walls of the monastery is available only to those who visit the brewery in person (or submit themselves to grey-market thuggery). St. Bernardus got the recipes and the moxy and ran with it, becoming a wildly successful commercial brewery. Until 1992 they were even selling it under the name Sixtus. They have quite a legacy: it is interesting to see today the wide variety of Belgian beer claiming association with this or that abbey that hadn’t existed for centuries before the brewery began, cashing in on the whole Belgian beer thing.

The Christmas Ale is very hazy and a deep dark mahogany, almost chocolate. The head is creamy and sticky, a pillow of wheat. The aroma is light and fruity but also noticeably cidery. A note of perry aroma as well. A bit of brown malt and a light alcohol tinge come through as well.

The flavor is strongly alcoholic – present but not sharp or overpowering. There is an exotic fruit flavor of passion fruit and papaya. A mild cider flavor and dustiness intrigue me. There is just a hint of residual sweetness. After the fourth sip or so I start to detect an oak flavor. There is some character that is just not right: it is all interesting but some fusel alcohol is really turning me off. The palate is creamy and full, perhaps just a little too lingering. But you’ve gotta hand it to Belgian brewers; for a 10% beer this is really very smooth.

+St. Bernardus Christmas Ale

3.4 (4-6-7-3-14)

12 Beers of X-Mas: Bell’s Christmas Ale

Wednesday, December 17th, 2008

On the fourth day of Christmas my beer fridge gave to me a Bell’s Christmas Ale. This offering from Bell’s Brewery in Kalamazoo, Michigan uses all Michigan-grown barley and lots of Michigan-grown hops. It’s said to be brewed as a scotch ale, an amber-colored malty and earthy style.

The Christmas Ale is an opal persimmon. The head, the color of wheat, is pillowy and lingering. The aroma is lightly fruity and cidery. I barely notice a bit of dark malt as well. A small but persistent sharpness indicates alcohol.

The flavor is prominently bitter. Though overall it is not more bitter than many regular pale ales, the bitterness is earthy and flat and almost numbs the tip of my tongue. The palate starts out intense as well, and it is cloyingly sweet. On the middle of the tongue i note a spiced flavor: a combination of ginger and pepper. The earthy hops contribute, and some caramel and brown malt flavor as well. A decent Christmas beer, though I’m not sure it’s very Scottish.

+/-Bell’s Christmas Ale

3.2 (4-7-6-2-13)

12 Beers of X-Mas: Anchor Christmas Ale

Sunday, December 14th, 2008

Anchor Christmas AleThe 2008 release is the thirty-fourth of Anchor Brewing‘s annual Christmas ale, Our Special Ale. It pours a deep dark sepia with mahogany notes. The lusciously thick fallow head leaves heavy rings as I drink. The aroma is rich and spicy of licorice, caramel, anise, and coriander.

A strong roast malt flavor is followed by spices: cloves, anise, and cinnamon. A light sweetness balances the roasty bitterness. A slight hint of medicinal flavor (probably the spices) is all that bothers me. Good alcohol warming sensation, not too sharp. The palate is thick, bordering on chewy. There is a bit of a coating sensation gone almost before you notice.

For over three decades this has been pretty much the standard American Christmas beer, and this year it lives up to that role.

+Anchor Our Special Ale

3.8 (4-8-7-4-15)

12 Beers of X-Mas: Bah Humbug!

Saturday, December 13th, 2008

In early December it is impossible to avoid the crowds gearing up for the holidays. I can’t escape being festive as well, so for the next twelve days I’ll be tasting a Christmas or winter themed beer. Someone will no doubt observe that the twelve days of Christmas actually begin on Christmas Day. Nuts to you, I’m getting everyone excited to celebrate.

From the Wychwood Brewery in Whitney, Oxfordshire comes Bah Humbug!, their regular Christmas ale. It pours a somewhat hazy mahogany. The head is a creamy wheat that thins quickly but still remains. The nose smells alot like Jack Daniels… malty and boozy, with a little sweetness.

The flavor is a bit off. There is a strong fusel alcohol warming bordering on a bite. There is also a meaty, almost rubbery character I would attribute to yeast autolysis. Caramel malt flavor and some sweetness are present as well. The carbonation is pleasantly low, and the palate round and full without being too thick. Bah Humbug! is close to being quite good, but was fermented much too warm, so it seems very boozy. The noble hops and delicate malt character are hidden behind unpleasant off-flavors.

+/-Wychwood Bah Humbug!

RateBeer: 2.9 (3-6-5-4-11)