Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Jay and Dee’s Twelve Beers of Christmas 2016, the first four

Dee:  We last reviewed twelve Christmas themed beers back in 2014 (click here for details) and decided that we would quite like to sample twelve more this year.

We’ve sourced all of them from local businesses; namely Cotteridge Wines and Stirchley Wines though of course they should all be available from good beer retailers anywhere.

What is a Christmas Beer?  Generally, they are thought of as being dark in colour, heavily flavoured with fruit and spice, with a high alcohol content, but this is not always the case.  We have in our selection for this year beers which are lighter in colour, taste and strength and we could go so far as to say that the only uniting factor in Christmas beers is the imagery used on the label.

We’ve used the same layout as previous beer reviews, providing links to the brewers’ web sites, tasting notes where they are available, and our own experiences of each drink.

We would be interested to hear if anyone reading this has tried any of these beers and if they were enjoyed or not.

Let’s get started then with the first four;

Penguin
Purchased from:  Stirchley Wines
Brewery:  Animal Brewing Co.
Tasting Notes said:  Canoodle together under the mistletoe with this special pale ale - single hopped with New Zealand Motueka adding tropical fruit flavours and lightly spiced to give a seasonal twist.
Dee said:  Light Gold in colour, with a subtle and slightly fruity aroma.  Taste was malty, slightly buttery but also had a hint of toasted coconut.  It had a nice lingering finish and was much more flavoursome than I was expecting.  Also at 4.6% it was easily drinkable.
Jay said:  Spicing is subtle but gives a really interesting and lingering after taste.  Hints of coconut perhaps?  Very drinkable and a great start to the project.

Sleighed
Purchased from:  Stirchley Wines
Brewery:  Two Towers Brewery
Tasting Notes said:  A dark rich porter, deep and long, with hints of Christmas pudding. Seasonal special - only available at Christmas.  Sleighed is  a very dark, rich, spicy stout, packed full of hazelnut, cinnamon, vanilla flavours, tinged with coco and chocolate notes.  The name is a 'nod' in the direction of the band whose singer 'sang': "It's Chriiiiisssstmaaas!" 
Dee said:  Coffee black in colour without any head on it.  Treacle and dark chocolate were the predominant aromas, followed by a flat and light texture and complex flavour profile which included tobacco smoke and black cherry.  This won’t be to everyone’s tastes but I was a big fan of it.
Jay said: Porters are awesome and one from a cool local brewery? It’s a decent ale but I guess I was expecting something a bit more.  There’s coffee, cocoa and tobacco.  Perhaps it was the hint of banana that threw me, although that appears to be my tastebuds as Dee didn’t find it.

Bristletoe
Purchased from:  Cotteridge Wines
Tasting Notes said:  This years edition of Bristletoe uses rolled oats and traditional brown porter malt to produce a rich bodied and full flavoured beer that punches well above its modest Christmas ABV, allowing you to enjoy more!
Dee said:  Very dark brown, almost black coloured porter with a bitter, earthy aroma which also had a hint of espresso coffee.  The taste was subtler than the aroma suggested, but the coffee was carried through into the taste.  A nice easy drink.
Jay said:  Our second porter and it’s a juicy one.  Nice bit of fizz in this one and a lingering coffee aftertaste.

Red Nose Reinbeer
Purchased from:  Stirchley Wines
Brewery:  Cotleigh Brewery
Tasting Notes said:  A richly flavoured deep copper coloured seasonal beer and Gold Medal Winner. A smooth long lasting finish with chocolate, toffee and nuts. Brewed using Pale, Crystal and Chocolate malt with Goldings, Fuggles and Northdown hops.
Dee said:  Deep Mahogany colour and an aroma of strong spices including pepper and nutmeg, with hops in the background.  The taste was of bitter toffee at first, followed by raisins, sultanas and prunes.  With all of this going on in one drink it is definitely one to be drunk slowly to appreciate everything it has to offer.
Jay said:  Molasses, burnt sugar and a hint of spice on the nose, which delivered on first taste before being washed away and lost.

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