Sunday, 25 December 2011

Beer Advent Calendar Day 25- A Plethora of Beers and a Message

Good evening all. Well, the big day has finally arrived, along with the end of this epic saga. After 25 beers, two pubs (including a review of a newly opened one) and a lot of pontificating, Christmas Day is here. Tonight's post has a lot of beers, so let's get straight into it with the first choice, BrewDog There Is No Santa....

There Is No Santa is a 4.7% ABV Spiced Beer, making it attractively sessionable and appropriate for the first beer of the day. The beer pours a light black with a generous, foamy beige head. The aroma is rich in cloves and ginger, with a lot of sweetness coming through in the background. No sense of a malty presence. A lot of ginger flavour in the taste, with additional spice flavours present throughout. There is a slight bitterness in the finish, but this is occasionally offset by the sweetness in the background. The mouthfeel is carbonated, but not overly thick. Overall, a very good Christmas beer with plenty of spicy, warming flavours and aromas. Well done BrewDog, you've virtually encapsulated the spirit of the festive season in a bottle!

The next beer of the day was a very special one- Mikkeller BA-Red Wine Santa's Little Helper 2009. This beer is an 11.0% ABV Belgian Strong Dark Ale aged in red wine barrels for 4 months. The appearance is dark brown, verging on red, with a foamy beige head. The aroma is very vinous, with some dark fruits and a lingering sweetness in the background. The flavour of the red wine is immediately apparent in the taste, accompanied by a fruity sweetness and a light caramelised taste in the finish. Mouthfeel is very carbonated but light, with a dry finish. Overall, a fantastic beer from Mikkeller. The barrel ageing adds a great dimension to the beer, making it extremely drinkable despite the high ABV percentage. Highly recommended!

The third beer was Hop Back Brewery Pickled Santa. This beer is a 6% Spiced Ale brewed with spices. The appearance is copper/chestnut brown with virtually no head. Some of the sediment managed to make its way into the glass despite my attempts at careful pouring! The aroma is very malty, with hints of the spices coming through (predominantly ginger, nutmeg and some cloves). In regards to the taste, the coriander and nutmeg come through the most during drinking, with a light malt presence and a subtle hop bitterness in the finish. The mouthfeel is quite thick and not overly carbonated. Overall, quite an average offering from a good brewery. The whole presentation (bottle design, name, beer) feels like a forced effort to try and produce a Christmas ale to cash in on the season. Not recommended.

The fourth beer was Goose Island Christmas Ale 2009. This beer is a 7.0% American Brown Ale. The appearance is chestnut brown with a small beige head that quickly dissolves. The aroma is malty with some light hop character in the background. The taste is also malty, with some citrus flavours from the hops coming through in the finish. There is also a caramelised sweetness present. The mouthfeel is slightly carbonated and quite thick, but this compliments the flavours very well. Overall, a light yet malty beer with a sweet aftertaste and a noticeable hop presence. There may not be anything "Christmassy" about this beer in terms of the ingredients used during the brewing process, but this is quite refreshing and certainly an improvement on the previous beer. At this point, Mikkeller Santa 2009 was my favourite, with this beer taking second place.

The fourth beer, and the accompaniment to a lovely dinner, was Mikkeller Red/White Christmas. This beer is 8.0% ABV and is presented in a magnificent 1.5 litre magnum. The beer is a combination of two styles- a Red Ale and a Witbier. The beer pours a light red colour with a lot of carbonation and lacing in the glass. The aroma is gorgeously hoppy and malty, with a light sweetness in the background. Looking forward to this beer a lot now! The taste is composed of fruity hops with a light bitterness in the finish. There is also a pleasing sweetness in the background that compliments the bitterness very well. The mouthfeel is very thick and chewy but it works so well with this particularly beer- seems to amplify the hop character marvelously. Overall, this is a fantastic beer that would be perfect at any time of the year. It's very similar to Mikkeller's "A Pale Ale", so if you can find either and you're a fan of insanely hoppy red ales, don't think twice about tasting them. A perfect beer for a fantastic dinner!

Although I'll have a couple more beers before the end of the day, I'll finish the blog post here as it seems very appropriate. I'd like to take the opportunity to thank everyone and anyone who has taken time out of their day to read my disjointed and potentially incoherent musings over the last 3.5 weeks. This has been a very rewarding exercise for me and has forced me to focus on what makes a beer good or bad rather than just deciding on the first sip. I've tasted a lot of fantastic beers, a few average ones and a couple of duds, but they've all been vital in helping me to develop my palate and further my interest in the ever-exciting beverage known as beer. If I've inspired even one person to rethink their approach to beer, either in regards to how they evaluate it or through joining the consistently increasing craft-beer movement, then I've achieved a great deal. This blog will continue to be used for beer reviews and possibly even music reviews in the future, and I have every intention of doing another beer advent calendar next year. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year readers! Until next time....

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