Thursday, 22 December 2016

Twelve Beers of Christmas 2016: The final four and the winners

Shameless Santa
Purchased from:  Cotteridge Wines
Brewery:  To Øl
Tasting Notes said:  A Belgian strong Red Ale, playing and using all the cheap tricks of the trade. Caramel malts, sugars, highly attenuated yeast profile, fruity novel hops as Mandarina Bavaria and Calypso. This is one greasy balanced beer that suits any situation involving Christmas, New Years Eve and any other event that involves roasted marshmallows.
Dee said:  Deep Copper in colour with a light beige head.  I was not expecting the aroma of summer fruits.  A rich malty taste, and far lighter than its ten per cent strength led me to expect.  Overall, this was a beer of surprises, the last one being the especially warming finish.
Jay said:  Christmassy, malty?  Surprisingly light taste for the powerful ten per cent.  Fruity and frighteningly drinkable.  Cheers!

Nefarious Ten Pin
Purchased from:  Cotteridge Wines
Brewery:  Ska Brewing
Tasting Notes said:  King of the alley; This Imperial Porter reigns supreme. Creamy, chocolaty sweet, with hints of coffee, the Nefarious is wickedly outrageous.
Dee said:  We weren’t sure if this was marketed as a Christmas beer or not, but the skeleton clad in Santa style robes qualified it for us.  Black coloured, with a pleasantly chocolatey, coffee-like aroma.  Earthy, bitter and slightly smoky tasting.  Big on flavour.
Jay said:  Darkest dark porter.  Coffee and burnt sugar on the nose.  Very thin mouth feel but a definite fizz.  Coffee and burnt sugar taste but not a great deal of aftertaste.

Tsjesses 2015
Purchased from:  Cotteridge Wines
Brewery:  De Struise Brouwers
Tasting Notes said:  Tsjesses is a jolly, blond winter ale with a fluffy white cap.  Its aroma is elegant, with hints of fruit, spices, refreshing herbs and noble hops.  The taste is robust, very complex and quite dry for its style.  This warming ale is our gift to you for the holidays.  Enjoy!
Dee said:  Attractive reddish copper colour.  Aroma of strong bitter hops.  The bitterness was carried through to the taste, which also included malt and yeast.  This one lingered so is one to be sipped slowly.
Jay said:  A very festive chestnut colour with lots of fruit and malt on the nose.  A fizzy and again fruity taste.  Quite a light beer considering its strength.

Most Wonderful Time for a Beer
Purchased from:  Cotteridge Wines
Brewery:  Uiltje Craft Beer
Tasting Notes said:  A mixture of spices with juniper berries, bog myrtle, liquorice root and more.
Dee said:  Winner of the best packaging this year.  This beer was labelled as a Gruit; a term I hadn’t heard before, but which turned out to be an old fashioned method for flavouring beer before the widespread use of hops.
This beer had a reddish brown colour and a strongly spiced aroma which reminded me of nutmeg, allspice and predominantly pepper.  It was quite thickly textured and smooth to taste, with an interesting slightly herbed flavour.  A burnt caramel aftertaste completed this beer’s multi-faceted profile.
Jay said:  Another porter looking ale.  Herbal, almost medicinal smell.  Tangy and herbal taste which developed into a lingering burnt sugar.  One of the most unusual beers of the twelve and you know, one of my favourites.

In Conclusion
Jay’s Favourite:  Penguin
Dee’s Favourite:  Anchor Christmas Ale
Dee – As with 2014s selection, all twelve beers were enjoyable and we appreciated the variety of colours, textures and flavours that were delivered.  I chose the Anchor ale as my favourite because of its success in balancing such big flavours in a way that captured the essence of Christmas in a glass.
Jay was most impressed with the seemingly disparate elements all coming together to make the Penguin beer a seasonal beer that was easy to drink and defied the dark, dense and heavy Christmas beer stereotype.

We hope this has been an interesting project to follow.  We certainly enjoyed putting it together and, assuming that we can source twelve more Christmas beers, we look forward to next year’s selection.

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