Wednesday, December 25, 2013

All I Want For Xmas Is A Mixed 6 Pack

In an effort to find a distraction from the stress of holiday shopping, we popped into our neighborhood package store, Bottles & Cans to make a mixed 6 pack of this year's Christmas beers and get ourselves in the holiday spirit. Some of these we've had in past years and a few are new ones we were curious about. Below are 6 local(ish) seasonal beers and our opinions of what we drank. All are rated on a 5 tree rating system. Wishing you a happy, healthy, craft beer filled holiday season!

From: Milwaukee, WI
Style: Spiced Ale 
ABV: 9.4% 

This dark amber colored ale had a nicely spiced nose, with notes of cinnamon, nutmeg, fig, honey and a touch of orange zest. Toasted malt and honey dominate the flavor bringing a lot of sweetness, which is complimented by the spices that linger on the tongue. It finishes with slight warmth and was surprisingly smooth and balanced for a 9.4% beer. Seeing as their Pumpkin Lager was also very high on our list in October, I think it's fair to say that Lakefront is a dominating force in the spiced beer category.

From: Chicago, IL
Style: Spiced Ale
ABV: 6%
The warm copper colored ale with ruby hues had a woodsy, piney hop aroma that stays in the forefront from beginning to end. The flavor had an initial bready, malty sweetness that becomes dry and bitter very quickly, similar to a hoppy English Ale. The hop bitterness and ginger lingers on the tongue in a bit of a competition. We've loved this beer in years past, but felt it was lacking some balance this time around.

From: Kalamazoo, MI
Style: Scottish Ale
ABV: 5.5%
Bell's winter scottish ale has no spices whatsoever for a holiday edition beer, but won us over with the complex malt aroma and mouthfeel. This beer has tons of layered toasty malt and kettle caramelization as well as a nice balance of hops. Less in the festive in nature, but so complex and drinkable in design. Definitely one of our favorites of the bunch.  

From: Cleveland, OH
Style: Spiced Ale
ABV: 7.5%
Hands down, still the best of the holiday beer category. Copper in color, this winter warmer has detectable layers of brown sugar, cinnamon and ginger without being overpowering. This ale is beer meets gingerbread cookie in the the most balanced, desirable way. It has a sweet, spiced start with a dry, slightly hoppy finish. Without a doubt, exactly what we'd want a holiday spiced beer to be - start to finish. Cheers Great Lakes Brewing!

From: Marshall, MI
Style: Winter Warmer
ABV: 8.75%

Cinnamon, nutmeg, molasses and dried fruit fill the nose. The super malty, almost bitter roast flavor with hints of coffee dries the palette, with a spice and licorice finish. This winter warmer is very complex in flavor with a bit of alcohol bite to it that is interesting in the least, but hard to consume in large quantities. Definitely one to share around a warm fire.

From: Lakewood, NY
Style: Spiced Ale brewed with Glögg
ABV: 8%
After developing a new found love for glögg at a local Andersonville competition, we were very curious to try Southern Tier's ale brewed with figs, orange peel and spices, reminiscent of traditional glögg. It was mahogany in color with a prominent spice aroma. The flavor itself we found to be a bit muddled, a lot of spice and malt characteristics competing with each other, with a bitter finish from the orange peel that dried out the tongue. We applaud the concept, but it was not quite what we were hoping for.