‘Tis the season for winter ales, and though we may hate the mall traffic, charity guilt trips, and huge bills we ran up over the holidays, we can all agree on one aspect of this chilly season that we love: the beer.
What better way to embrace your inner jolly than to grab a winter ale or two and cozy up to the fire (chestnuts encouraged). I have tried a few winter beers this season and hope to guide you to a warm-up-your-toes selection in the same way that Rudolph guides Santa’s sleigh. *Disclaimer: I did not drink all these beers in a single sitting.*
Delirium Noel 2009
Fact: Delirium makes great beer. It is a tad pricey, but this Christmas beer would be perfect for the beer lover on your list or a Secret Santa who enjoys a craft brew. A 22 oz. will cost around $10, but you get what you pay for. It has an opaque brown color, a quickly dissipating head, thin lacing, and a spicy aroma. Medium body, with full flavor. Most Delirium beer you drink has a very fruity flavor and this is no exception.
Stone/n0gne-0/Jolly Pumpkin Special Holiday Ale 2009
Now this is an interesting beer. Sometimes brewers do a collaboration project with one other brewery, but the three-headed team of Stone, n0gene-0, and Jolly Pumpkin came up with something special. Of all the Christmas beers, this was the most interesting that I tried. It has a complex flavor profile which makes it a beer to drink by itself. It has a decent amount of carbonation, and it tastes like a Bonnaroo tent in your mouth. This serving of liquid incense contains Caraway, Juniper, White Sage, and Chestnuts flavors. I highly recommend this for anyone looking to try something outside the box.
A solid Christmas beer that starts with a spicy aroma. It has a near perfect mouthfeel, not too heavy but not too light. And the flavor finds a way to balance malt and hops very evenly and ends with a hoppy, dry finish. A recommendation for anyone who enjoys I.P.A.s, but this would probably turn off the occasional beer drinker.
Anchor Brewing Company Our Special Ale 2010
Every year Anchor tweaks its Christmas beer recipe. I can respect that. If Bob Dylan taught us anything it is that the times they are a-changin’. It has a dark, chocolate brown color with some flecks of ruby when you hold it up to the light. The aroma contains ginger, caramel, and roasted malt. A combo of sweetness, ginger, and toffee make you want to keep drinking this beer. I will be waiting patiently for next year’s release!
Bell’s Christmas Ale
Bell’s is one of my favorite breweries, so I had high hopes for this beer and I was not disappointed. It is a light brown color, almost amber with a slightly hoppy smell. The taste has a delicious malt flavor with some citrus and hop notes. The mouthfeel is smooth and rich. And it has very well done balanced finish. I hope my stocking is stuffed with a few of these come Christmas morning.
Breckenridge Christmas Ale
I feel like this is a middle of the road Christmas Ale. It has a brown, slightly red color with a spicy, cinnamon nose. The flavor is malty and spicy with a bubbly, carbonated mouthfeel. One surprise is the amount of alcohol in this beer at 7.4% ABV, which can help you loosen up around those pesky in-laws.
Christian Moerlein Christkindl
A beer that most Cincinnatians hold dear to their hearts. Moerlein’s Christkindl is a unique take on the Christmas beer. It plays off the memory association of Christmas and a particular taste, chocolate. This is not a chocolate beer. But the chocolate flavor reminds you of being a kid opening presents on Christmas morning. There is definitely something nostalgic about this beer. It has an amber color with a spot of gold, and a hoppy, caramel aroma. The malt taste carries throughout the beer and meshes well with the chocolate. A great 6-pack gift option for loved ones or yourself.
Christmas comes only once a year which is a bummer that you can only experience some of these beers for a short time. I have a nagging suspicion that mid-April I will find myself jonesing for Special Holiday Ale 2009. Luckily spring beers are around the corning.
Cheers to your good health!
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