Posts Tagged ‘winter ale’

12 Beers of X-Mas: Delirium Noël

Thursday, January 8th, 2015

This evening I’m having Delirium Noël, the Christmas offering from Brouwerij Huyghe, based in Melle, Belgium. The delirium line (originating with Delirium Tremens) features delightful pink elephants as the logo, in this case they’re skiing and driving Santa’s sleigh.

Delirium NoëlNoël is a relatively clear ruby red, with a thick, creamy and lasting tan head. A delicate caramel malty sweetness leads the nose, followed by a spicy, peppery character. Coriander, cinnamon and white pepper combine with dried fruit to produce an amazingly intriguing complexity.

A rich spiciness dominates the flavor. Strong alcohol warming melds well with the cinnamon and allspice, an almost overbearing spice character that is somewhat balanced by a rich caramel sweetness. After the depth of the aroma this hammering flavor is a little frustrating, but I suppose in a way it’s the Belgian version of an American IPA. The full body, the alcohol bite and the bright carbonation produce a lively body that makes this beer remarkably drinkable for how sharp it is.

This is almost the definition of a winter warmer: the spiciness, the full body, the high alcohol content (ten percent!). I wish there were a bit more depth to the flavor, but otherwise a very satisfying beer to share on a cold night like tonight.

+Delirium Noël

4.1 (4-9-7-5-16)

12 Beers of X-Mas: Smuttynose Winter Ale

Thursday, January 12th, 2012

Smuttynose Winter AleThe winter offering from Smuttynose Brewing Company in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, is called simply Winter Ale. This milk chocolate colored beer has a nice pillow of tan head. The aroma is delicate. Toffee, chocolate, and caramel character predominate the moderately sweet nose. A faint spiciness almost eludes detection.

The flavor is also somewhat sweet, caramel and chocolate mostly, but there is also some nuttiness and a significant spiciness. Earthy noble hops and a bit of alcohol accent this spicy yeast character. Overall a very intriguing flavor. The palate is big, almost chewy. It doesn’t seem cloying because of the significant spice and a fair addition of hops, but I’m still left licking sticky lips.

+Smuttynose Winter Ale

3.7 (4-7-8-3-15)

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)

Sierra Nevada 2009 Celebration Ale

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010

2010-03-02-celebrationTonight I will be tasting the 2009 Celebration Ale from Sierra Nevada Brewing Company in Chico, California. This is the newest in Sierra Nevada’s venerated line of hoppy winter beers.

The 2009 Celebration Ale pours a golden amber with a healthy bottle-condition haze. The tan head is absurdly thick and creamy, like meringue. The nose is richly hoppy. A tart grapefruit aroma prevails, accompanied by lemongrass and pineapple. A hint of malty sweetness comes through, but the grapefruit makes it difficult to detect.

The flavor of the Celebration Ale is supremely hoppy. Grapefruit dominates, to a fault. Almost nothing else is noticeable besides, even the bitterness from those hops. The tart citric flavor seems a bit flat, and is refreshing for only a little while before growing impertinent. The body is full and light but can’t make up for the lack of character on the taste.

+Sierra Nevada 2009 Celebration Ale

3.4 (5-8-6-4-14)

12 Beers of X-Mas: St. Peter’s Winter Ale

Saturday, December 27th, 2008

St Peters Winter AleSt. Peter’s Brewery located in The Saints, Suffolk, brews a number of good beers but doesn’t have the sense to put them in bottles that respect them. Respect Beer. Don’t get me wrong, I like the idea. See, their bottles are recreations of an eighteenth century one found near Philadelphia. Or, at least they used to be. Now the export bottles are a round version of it. The problem is that the glass is a very transparent green tint, which allows in unreasonable amounts of ultraviolet light. UV light facilitates a reaction between the riboflavin provided by the yeast and the bittering compounds of the hops that produces a very particular flavor compound. It is this compound that is the characteristic flavor and aroma of every green and clear glass beer, such as Heineken, Corona, and Tsing Tao. It is that import flavor known technically as skunking. All beer will develop this outside on a bright day if you’re not careful (give it a try, it’s fun. get something hoppy but cheap). I’ve heard from an inside source that one brewing company (I won’t name names…) has gone so far as to build a room in their packaging operations that exposes the beer to a measured amount of ultraviolet light to make sure kegs (which never see day) and anything else that doesn’t get much light will still have the proper amount of that skunky goodness.

Winter Ale pours a very dark mahogany that is almost black. The head is creamy and khaki. The nose is roast and skunky. Roast and caramel malts fight to be noticed behind the intrusive off-flavor. It is a little sweet, and I notice a bit of a spiciness. The flavor is strongly bitter at front, with a lingering sweetness. Roast malt tastes of coffee. There is a bit of noble hop herbal flavor as well as the omnipresent skunk. Very cloying.

-St. Peter’s Winter Ale

2.9 (3-6-6-2-12)