Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Nurse the Hate: Christmas Ale Tasting 2

 Elevator Brewing Company Winter Warmer Ale- This is a heavy spiced brown ale with a caramel overtone.  This is like a beer one of your buddies in school stole from his parent’s garage and then you all wound up sipping at it in your "fort" pretending it was good.  The "fort"is an abandoned log cabin in the woods with the unmistakable scent of wet decaying nudie magazines on the floor.  Eventually you choke it down and never mention out loud that you didn’t enjoy it.  Later you break the bottle on the railroad tracks as you walk home in the overcast dusk. 

Shiner Holiday Cheer-  I will level with you.  I was ready to hate this Austin beer based on the hipster stamp of approval.  I can already imagine dudes in white sunglasses with ironic mustaches sipping these as they listen to some shitty post punk garage psych band their old roommate put together with some dudes he works with at the artisan bakery/coffee shoppe/performance space.  Sonofabitch though, it was really good.  A surprising sweetness on the nose and palate with an apricot and Necco wafer scent gives way to rich but not overbearing peach.  This is beer, not a peach cooler, so do not be dissuaded.  It’s really tasty.

Mikkeller’s Santa’s Little Helper-  This is a big bottle of a Belgian punch in the face.  It’s like a brown ale that has had a wreath and scented candle soaking in it.  It’s not really something you enjoy.  It’s something you have to get through like a horrible workout involving truck tires and sledgehammers.  I’m sure guys named Rolf and Joekel drink this while they listen to Turbonegro.  10.9% alcohol.  Good luck.

Wells Sticky Toffee Pudding Ale- This comes as advertised.  If you have the desire to get a four year old drunk, and frankly, during this holiday season,  who doesn’t?  …This is your go-to beer.  It is like a bunch of melted down Kraft caramels that somehow made a beer.  It’s really sweet and I think I liked it.  I only drank 4 ounces of it though, so I might not be able to get through a whole bottle.  If the police pull someone over with a six pack of this and a stuffed animal in their car, I think a full background check should be legally allowed.  There needs to be some explanations at least.

Rivertown Winter Ale-  I am not a huge fan of this brewery.  Their beers always seem assembled as opposed to carefully made.  There is an off flavor in this I can’t put my finger on, like if someone poured this beer for me and then decided to squeeze in one single pump of liquid hand soap.  My teeth felt cleaner though…

Smuttynose Winter Ale-  This is a very drinkable pleasant balance of spices, malt, and hop.  At 5.8% alcohol, it is much more civilized than many of the beasts at this tasting.  I could see having a few of these and staying in my shoes at a holiday party.  Don’t lose your mind though.  It's good but I wouldn't kill myself trying to find it. This is The Replacements “Don’t Tell A Soul” not “Tim”…

Heavy Seas Yule Tide-  This is for Big Boys.  It is a rum barrel aged weizen dopplebock ale.  The barrel aging gives it a nice vanilla nose and finish, and I would describe the ale as “assertive”.  I have in my tasting notes that “…this is Deep Purple “Hush” and a dude named Randy is hitting a bong in the back of a conversion van with a unicorn painted on the side.  Some chick in jean cutoffs with high white color striped socks that looks like Joan Jett keeps asking you for cigarettes.  She is really messed up and can’t seem to remember you telling her that you don’t smoke.  Maybe it’s because that Deep Purple’s “Hush” is playing so fucking loud.”.  I don't know for sure what that means as applied to a beverage.  

Ridgeway Brewing Bad Elf-  This is such an obvious ploy to crash in on the Xmas beer market by this English brewer.  It’s like they slapped  an Elf drawing on a bottle of Stella and charged twice as much because they thought they could get away with it.  The Elf drawing is the only thing festive about this beer.  Is it against the holiday spirit to be angry at a beer?

Ridgeway Brewing Insanely Bad Elf-  These are the guys I was mad at for the Bad Elf.  This is horrible.  It is an 11.2% ABV with a maple syrup vibe that tastes like it was made clandestinely in a jail cell.  This is the perfect beer to serve someone if you had decided to tell them off, burn all bridges, and let them know that you thought they were a “dick”.  At that moment have them take a nice swallow of this.  It would be the only way to engage all their senses as you convey completely how much disdain you have for them.  Maybe there’s a market for that?

Fat Heads Holly Jolly-  With over the top cinnamon and nutmeg, it is obvious the debt to Great Lakes Christmas Ale.  It’s really good, and is probably my favorite American Christmas ale of the moment.  It’s in your face like a guy in an elf costume poking you in the shoulder saying, “This is good, right?  Right?”…  It has 7.4% ABV, so don’t pound these down.  No one wants to be “the guy that took his pants off” at the office holiday party.

N’ice Chouffe-  A more sophisticated rounded version of Fat Heads Holly Jolly?  There is sort of an herbal cut to this that must be there to make the drinker feel as if it’s a healthy organic choice to knock back this beer with the 10% alcohol.  This is the most blatant example of the Belgian Beer packaging paradox.  Two cute smiling gnomes are building a welcoming campfire on the label.  These are the gnomes that will steal your wallet and wrist watch, and then leave you to shiver by the fire after you pass out and wet yourself from the sheer amount of alcohol you unwittingly consumed.   This is good.  Really good.  Beware.

Sweet Water Festive Ale-  This is OK, but has too much “bass” in it for my liking.  You know those cars at inner city stoplights that have all the windows closed and some awful rap song is rattling everything inside that poor vehicle?  This is the beer that tastes like that Monte Carlo with the enormous rims.  It is the exact opposite of a Mazda Miata playing James Taylor.

Delirium Noel-  Since 1654 the Belgians have been making this slightly sweet complex ale.  It’s hard to argue with anything that has been made that long and enjoyed by that many generations.  There’s a pink elephant on a sled on the label.  That is to distract you from the fact that if you drink two of these you will pass out and have your fillings removed via pliers by a guy in a leather motorcycle vest that smells like oil and fish.  He will either make a necklace out of them for his girlfriend that looks like Elvira or sell them at the train station for meth.  Either way, don’t drink two of these and try to get back to your hotel in a strange Belgian town.  It will all go bad.

Kasteel Winter-  This is a thick mocha coffee with a sack kicking 11% alcohol content.  It’s like a liquid dark German chocolate cake with a boozy frosting.  When the beer has 11% alcohol, is it even beer anymore, or is it some sort of thing that is sipped by a fire by learned men that wipe their eyeglasses and say things like, “Dangerous ideas eh?  May I remind you gentlemen that these are Dangerous Times!”.  This is a beer you will either love or hate completely.  If your palate is attuned to think Guinness is too think and harsh, run away from this like it was a dangerous animal.

Corsendonk Christmas Ale-  This is great.  Spicy lively ale with fruity overtones and just the right amount of carbonation.  This is a complicated beer for grown ups.  I can see having one of these in a wide rimmed glass while a guy named Jurgen twirls his mustache after serving you the best stew you ever had by a fireplace.  If that’s not Christmas, what is?  Highly recommended.

North Coast Brewing Winter Time Ale-  Laid back.  That’s what you get when a San Diego brewer makes a winter ale.  What do they know about winter in San Diego?  It’s 75 and sunny every day out there.  They have those annoying Santas in shorts and leather sandals out there strutting around public beaches and piers.  Fuck you and fuck your shorts Santa.

Buckeye Brewing Company Christmas Girl-  This is a Belgian style golden ale that proudly notes “no spices added”.  The obvious question that comes to mind is why is this a Christmas beer?  What’s with the really amateurish drawing on the label?  This falls into the “maybe we can sell these at the peak holiday buying season if we put a chick in an elf costume on it” category.  If I am drinking golden Belgian ale, I’m having a Duvel or a LaChouffe, not this.  Sorry man.

Sam Adams Merry Maker Gingerbread Stout-  I love how Sam Adams takes chances and makes weird beers like this.  The problem is I never actually like the beers themselves very much.  It’s a shame really.  Doesn’t gingerbread stout sound like a really good idea?  You know what else sounded like a good idea?  The band Velvet Revolver, and that wasn’t a good idea either.  Somebody probably likes this.  I don’t though.

Deschutes Jubelale-  This is a dark brown ale that to me evokes autumn flavors.  It tastes like hippies made this.  I have no idea if they did, but it’s from Oregon.  That swings things towards “likely” that a guy named Gary Starshine and his black dog named “Peace” probably had a hand in this beer.  He probably said things like “Dude, this totally feels right to me, like… like… you can feel all of our energy in here!”.  Or maybe it was made by a level headed guy with a beard named Jim that just likes autumn flavors.  I really have no idea.  It was OK, but it’s not Christmas Ale.

Full Pint Brewing Company Festivus-  This is sort of toffee and boring.  I can imagine a friend being jacked up about this and then having to be polite as he said, “This is really good, right?”.  Or maybe you pull one of these out of the fridge at a holiday party, and then abandon it on a coffee table after a sip of it.  There are probably pairs of these beers in the back of many refrigerators in the Full Pint Brewing Trade Zone.  It's the beer you hope a visitor to your home asks, "OK if I have one of these?". Yes it is friend, yes it is...


At December 26, 2014 at 9:33:00 PM EST , Blogger Dave L. said...

Great Christmas beer review, as usual.

Good warning on the gnomes on the label. They are sneaky.

Good call on the opportunistic brewers who promote their regular brews as Christmas brews. You're right to call bullshit. Buyer beware.

Regarding Smuttynose, I must admit I like Don't Tell A Soul (I love Tim too, of course). So your review is not a total condemnation to me.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home