Archive for December, 2009

Holiday Ales – 2009 Edition

Posted in ale, Seasonal on December 15, 2009 by Mick

Ahh yes….the Holidays.

The time of year when you eat, laugh and drink. Alot.

Usually, the holiday beers give you alot to offer. Full bodies, spice and usually a higher alcohol content. The breweries KNOW that youre going to be celebrating, and they do it to an aplomb.

To me, living in California, but an Upstate NY transplant, (518 represent!) doesnt really offer alot in the mire of what the holidays have to offer. Yeah, there is the black Friday sales, the attempt at making it look “snowy”, and more importantly, trying to completely get you in the spirit of the holidays. ┬áThe thing is, i have had the REAL Christmas holidays, ive had the snow, ive had the caroling, ive even had the cold, below zero wind-chill. But i take what i can get here….even if its Holiday Ales.

Anchor Steam is based in San Francisco, CA, and makes one hell of an ale. They are some of the best in the hoppier class, and easily found around the west-coast. Brewer Fritz Maytag takes special care in his beer, (as well as the Old Portrero line of whiskies) and you definitely taste it in his Christmas Ale.

Immediately, you open the bottle, and you are punched in the nose with a STRONG smell of pine and cloves. It smells as if 14 goth kids are smoking their ciggies outside in the cold forest. Pour the bottle, and its body is thick and black. The first taste knocked me off my feet. There arent enough numbers in the world to count the winter spices like nutmeg, pumpkin, clove, cinnamon, and even a deep chocolate in the flavor. And those are just the tastes that hit you off the mark. The 9.46%abv is pretty potent, but the beer is a heavy hitter, and you probably wont want more than one.

However, easier to drink is the Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale. Though not as much as smack in the nose, it still has the essential smells of a holiday ales. Pine, thyme, clove and nutmeg complement this one as well. Where it is different is the body. Its. So. Friggin. Easy. To. Drink! I found after four bottle of the 6.8% abv beer, i was wobbly, wondering where the hell did the four beers go? Dangerous? Yes. Worth it? Fuck yes.

Last in the list of tasted holiday ales is Deschutes Brewery’s Jubelale. The name is ridiculous. I cant say it. Especially if i have had a few. The beer? A bit disappointing. Being a huge fan of their Mirror Pond, Inversion and Obsidian Stout, but this beer left me empty handed. Everything about it was a bit lackluster, but as a non-holiday beer, its decent. I think i expected more out of it because of the flavors i got out of the previous two. Its pale-aley, but it lacks the spice the other two have. At 6.7%abv, its still worth a drink or two, but i would not bust this out at a party expecting Holiday “Jubilation”.

All in all, im sure there are a ton i havent tried this year, but i took the big three, and went with it. When you do enjoy these beers, make sure you do it with the ones you love, and laughter. Have a great holiday season!

My scores:

Anchor Steam Christmas Ale – 97 out of 100

Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale – 96 out of 100

Deschutes Jubelale 09 – 81 of out 100