We head to the Washington and Oregon based Grains of Wrath for their holiday entry, Hail Santa..
I am accustomed to the big Belgian bottle of St. Bernardus Christmas Ale so it took some getting used to it being in a twelve ounce can.
Here is how the brewery describes this Quad, “St.Bernardus Christmas Ale is an intensely dark beer with a full, yet slightly fruity flavour, overflowing with the tastes of winter and zesty seasonal aromas. Aniseed notes are complemented by hints of creamy caramel and fire-roasted chestnuts. This zestiness shows no signes of abating, pushing through to a magnificent finish of dried fruits and chocolate.”
Will the can compare to that? And will my comparison bottle taste similar, let’s get to the results…
A little toffee, a little fruit. Bang on fruitcake with this. There is a nice bite to it as well. It is too light for chocolate and roasted nuts aren’t there for me but has a zest and a malt backbone to it that means it could easily pair with practically any food course from salad to turkey to dessert. Just lovely.
Back to Oregon for some strong festivities from Terminal Gravity.
“Festivale is a classic TG rendition of a Winter Warmer. Brewed to be fairly dry, yet highly drinkable. With a complex malt and hop profile and a full, rounded, deep ruby colored body- Festivale is a winter favorite that rings true to a wide variety of beer drinkers.”
We go to Germany for what could be called a Christmas Radler from Clausthaler…
It is their normal beer spiked with cranberry juice. Perfect for holiday parties where not everyone is drinking.
We drive through the valley, staying in the same area code to review a San Fernando meets Belgium winter ale from 8One8 Brewing.
The label proclaims “aged with cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom and cloves” none of which really stride into frame. This has a St. Bernardus Christmas Ale vibe but it seems to be missing something. The aftertaste isn’t as rounded. A little too sharp. Maybe the 2022 batch will amp the spice up.
Off to Cincinnati and their local brewery, Rhinegeist who go the White Ale route (get it? snow) that many breweries take to avoid the Winter IPA or Stouts that dominate US winter warmers.
“Fresh additions of grapefruit peel and zesty ginger make for a bright and balanced White Ale with a refreshing nip.”
I don’t know if it is the lack of snow but there are not too many Christmas beers coming from SoCal. Los Angeles Ale Works is changing that with a double holiday release with one hoppy and one Belgian. Available at their Hawthorne brewery to-go.
Rounding out our trio of Winter beers is a lager filled with Carolina grown malt. The maltsters are name checked on the label of Winter Bock from Hi-Wire Brewing.
Not all holiday beers are Norman Rockwell, coming from Abomination Brewing. Santa’s Black Blood is a double (?) pastry stout brewed with vanilla beans, lactose and eggnog spices.
12 days of any style of beer is better than the Yuletide song. Even better is a style master like Stone giving a gift of hops in upside down mode. Just the right size for a post present party.