As the holiday season fast approaches, it is time to figure out what beers to drink sitting by the fireplace or just enjoying family and friends. Beer is the perfect beverage for these informal gatherings. Winter ales and lagers tend to have a higher alcohol content to keep the cold winter evenings at bay. They give everyone a nice warm glow, just be careful, it is easy to overindulge on these tasty treats.
Breckenridge Brewery, Christmas Ale, Breckenridge,CO, 7.1% abv. has a dark amber color with a thin tan head. The nose is filled with roasted dark malt, sweet caramel and dark cacao. The back end of the nose has subtle hints of vanilla and allspice. The palate is big on sweet roasted malt with dark chocolate and a slight espresso bitterness that clears the palate and leaves you thirsty for another sip. Enjoy the Breckenridge Brewery, Christmas Ale sitting around a fire pit on a chilly night while making smores over the warming flames.
Spoetzl Brewery, Shiner Holiday Cheer, Shiner, TX 5.4%abv. has a dark brown color with a thin khaki head. This is a classic German Dunkelweizen brewed with Texas peaches and roasted pecans. The wheat allows plenty of peach aromas come through with hints of roasted malt and a sweet nuttiness. The peaches are very pronounced on the palate, but not in a bad way. After the sweetness a dryness, probably a combination of the wheat nuts and pecans leads to a long finish. Shiner Holiday Cheer is nice for a holiday cheer, a unique lager, but it would probably make a spiced fruitcake taste even better.
Alewerks, Fun, Old-Fashioned Family Christmas Ale, Williamsburg Alewerks, Williamsburg, VA, 8.0%abv. is hazy dark brown in the glass. Aromas of baking spices greet the nose upfront, nutmeg, cloves, and cinnamon, backed with brown sugar, vanilla and toasted malt. The palate follows the nose closely at first and then fades into syrupy sweet beer, not much different from pumpkin ales, maybe just missing pumpkin added to the mix. After am autumn of pumpkin ales I want something more from my winter beers. The Alewerks, Fun, Old-Fashioned Family Christmas Ale would go best with a scoop of vanilla or even a scoop of peppermint ice cream.
Troegs Brewing Co., Hershey, PA, Mad Elf, 11%abv. is ruby red with a thin off white head. The label tells us the Mad Elf was brewed with honey and cherries and they are foremost on the nose. There are also some light baking spices such as clove and allspice on the nose courtesy of a spicy Belgian yeast strain. The palate is very nice, all of the aromas are the flavors of the beer together in harmony. For such a high alcohol level, there isn’t much burn on the backside, very nice indeed. The Troegs’ Mad Elf would be the perfect pairing with honey-glazed ham studded with cloves. After the ham serve a tarte tatin for dessert and serve up another Mad Elf. Also when you are headed to Hershey Park make sure to make a stop along the ways at Troegs Brewery on the road up to the park!