Here we are, Christmas is less than a week away and you know what that means, I need to get the rest of this list out fast! So let’s cut the chit-chat and get right down to the brass tacks.
The 12 beers of Christmas numbers 5-8.
5. Alesmith – Yulesmith (Winter) – Imperial Red Ale 8.5%ABV. This beer is a long standing tradition for me, the beer presents a rosy amber color with an aroma of sweet malts balanced by a nice combination of pine and citrus hops. The strong malt backbone is what makes itself known first on your palate. You get a little sweetness almost like caramel notes, just as the bittering hops kick in and make all the flavors pop together in your mouth like a symphony. While this Yulesmith is slightly less enjoyable than its summertime counter part it is no less an essential of the holiday season.
6. Lost Abbey Merry Taj – Imperial IPA 8.0%ABV – When setting out to write this series of Christmas blogs I had put together a pretty good list of beers to drink that I then would then narrow down to twelve. This beer wasn’t even on the list, partially because I had somehow never heard of it and Lost Abbey has NEVER made an IPA. So you can understand my surprise when I was drinking at Stone World Bistro in Liberty Station and saw this on the menu. I even asked if it was a mistake. Luckily for me, and the rest of the beer drinkers lucky enough to find this draft only beer from the brew masters at Lost Abby it wasn’t. Lovers of IPA will find a lot to like from this beer as soon as you catch a whiff of the aroma on this one. Piney hop notes will lure you in and coat your tongue with holiday cheer. The malts are subtle but bring a light, crisp quality to the beer. Easy to drink and very tasty, I only wish Stone had offered up a bigger pour, 8oz just wasn’t enough. Lost Abbey’s first IPA is a delight and that fact it’s a holiday beer is just a bonus for me to include it in this post.
7. Affligem – Noel -Belgian Strong Dark Ale 9.0%ABV. Finally a Belgium beer makes its presence known on this list and this one does so with authority. My serving was on draft at Stone Brewing and the glass presented with a lovely dark gold color and a nice frothy head on top. The nose on this beer is distinctly of dark fruits – raisins, dates, maybe some fig as well as spiced holidays flavors. The beer drinks incredibly well as the candied sugars used in most Belgians help to obscure the high level of alcohol. This one also has a nice warming effect and as is the case with most of the best beers from Belgium, this beers flavors really start to come alive as the glass warms. This is a fantastic Christmas treat.
8. Rogue – Santa’s Private Reserve Ale – Amber Ale 6.0%ABV – This is the second red ale to make the list, but this one is something of a craft beer holiday classic. Rogue brews this up annually and it’s always a treat. My favorite thing about ales from Rogue is the rich creamy head that shows up in most of their brews. Santa pours a deep red, kind of like his suit. You will notice a sweet malty aroma. When I took my first sip what jumped out at me was the strong malt base of the beer. It’s the back end is where the hops make their presence shown. Chinook hops give the beer a very tasty pine quality that helps to further the idea of this as the beer of choice for Saint Nicholas. I can’t emphasize enough just how impressive the creamy foam head on this beer is.
So that’s beers 1-8 for Christmas 2013. I still have four to go and a few surprises might be waiting underneath the Christmas tree.