Monday, December 20, 2010

Tasting notes for some delightful and unusual seasonal beers

Dieu de Ciel Solstice D’Hiver (Montreal, Quebec) An American style barleywine that is dark in color with a reddish tint. It has a sharp bitterness that is offset by notes of cherry, malt, and caramel. You can taste the high abv in this one. Try pairing with something nutty and sweet, like a fruity cookie.

Kerkon Bink Grand Cru (Belgium) This Belgium Strong Ale is strong by today’s standards, ranking at a 13% abv. It pours almost as dark as a stout thanks to its holiday assortment of winter-dried fruits. Think figs, raisins, and Ebenezer Scrooge on Xmas morn.

Oppigards Winter (Sweden) A very drinkable winter ale with that pours a warm copper color with a creamy head. Notes of hop, citrus, and black tea make for a full-bodied flavor, but without that I’m-too-full-to-eat-now feeling. Pair with funky cheeses, apricots, and your favorite dark, seedy bread.

Stella di Natale Troll (Italy) A dark, Belgium-style strong ale with a warm combination of cocoa, spice, and toasted malt to unwind with by your real (or imaginary) fireplace. Serve in a trappist glass and enjoy slowly so none of the subtle notes go unnoticed. Then, go to bed.

‘T Smisje Kerst (Belgium) This Dark Strong Christmas Ale definitely wins the award for cutest label, but what’s inside the package is just as good. A dark amber pour with a creamy head that delivers a yeasty, hard-candy taste. It finishes with a hint of smokiness.

Baird Jubilation (Japan) The first Christmas Ale to hit stateside from Baird. Pours an almost-transparent amber, has a nice fizz, and is chock full of honey, cinnamon and spice.

Baird Dark Sky (Japan) A very rich, dark imperial stout, chock full of a toasty hoppiness thanks to being brewed with a variety of 5 different hops and 8 types of malt. A chemistry experiment gone right! Pour into a round glass, lament over the darkness of the beer sky, and enjoy.

De Struise Tsjeese (Belgium) Fast drinkers be warned. This light, clove, cinnamon, and nutmeg Christmas ale, with it’s earthy-yet-crisp base, goes down as easy as that first glass of eggnog. But with its 10% abv, it demands to be savored!

Haandbryggeriet Nissefar, “Father Christmas” (Norway) This is a thick glass of Norwegian night, packed tightly into a bitter hops explosion. After adjusting to the hops, take the next sip to notice notes of pine. Low on carbonation, it is a bit like drinking a pint off the cask.

St. Feuillien/Green Flash Biere L’Amitie (California) A collaboration of impressive brewers, this Belgian style Pale Ale is seasonal for the southern states. Rich with citrus, coriander, and dry hops. A perfect medium-bodied pour.

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