this year's winterfest/seasonal/etc ales


I've sampled my fair share so far. For a non-craft brew the Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale is surprisingly good, methinks. Bitter, cinnamon-y and orange peel. Hops. Not bad.
Okay, of the craft brews, one that stands out as a sorta "kitchen sink" ale is Marin County Brewing Co's Hoppy Holiday Flavored Ale. Others may like it, but it was just too over the hill for me, and I think of myself as pretty daring. Heavy nutmeg tone, tempered with cinnamon (what winter seasonal isn't? cinnamon-y that is...), and orange peel. And the bottle sez it also contains "pure vanilla extract" and "mace", this last I don't think I could identify in a blind smell test. It sounds vaguely menacing though. The whole bomber (7.0% ABV) reminded me of my grandma's xmas cake: just a tad too liberal with the spice cabinet. Decent malt backbone but foam and lace almost nonexistent. Interesting? Yes. Will I drink another? Probably not. But I admire the mad brewmeister 'tude behind it.
Reply to
rmjon23

Sierra Nevada is a craft brewer! I like this year's Celebration Ale, too. It doesn't taste at all cinnamony to me, but there is a citric quality to some of the hop flavors.
Harpoon, of MA., make a criminally overspiced "Winter Warmer" which tastes of nothing but cinnamon & sugar. It doesn't have the malt base to support such excessive additives and is, generally, a foul-tasting trainwreck.
Reply to
Kyle

Can one of the Initiated give me a consensus definition of what delineates a craft brew from a domestic/non-craft brew? Why is Sam Adams - which is available everywhere in my area - not a craft brew, while Sierra Nevada - which is available everywhere in my area - a craft brew? Does it have to do with marketing? With distribution? An alleged superior quality of craft brew? The amt of employees? The number of places that the brew gets beered? (That last malaprop stolen from Norm Crosby.)
Reply to
rmjon23

I just tried Kansas City's Boulevard Brewing Co's NutCracker Ale. I must say that I like it alot, though it is on the uber spiced side. It has a really great tasting hoppiness, and I don't like hops generally if they are done for the sake of bitter. A good strong beer. I don't know if you can get Boulevard much outside of the Missouri area. Two great marketing tricks they employ are 1) substantial cardboard 6-pack boxes (as if you're picking up a provision from the general store) and 2) twist off caps. All snobbery aside, this brewery has such great beer that I just love the twist offs that much more. It's convenient and doesn't alter the product quality any. It probably costs more to produce a twist off cap than a stamped cap anyhoo, so I don't know what the big deal is other than convention/tradition.
The Saint Louis Schlafly Brewing Co distributed kegs of Pumkin Ale this September/October to local bars. It tasted very good, but wasn't really that memorable. I was surprised to find it is listed at 8% ABV.
Missourians are lucky to have these two brewers representing the state's east and west coast. Overall they both do an outstanding job and make their product available to retailers. I'd trade locations in a heartbeat to live smack dab between Anchor Brewing and Sierra Nevada BrewCo though : )
Comboverfish
Reply to
Comboverfish

I got a sixer of the NutCracker Ale the other day and it *is*damn tasty. And...I'm a big fan of the Bully Porter and enjoy their Pale Ale, Dry Stout, and when I see it, the Irish Ale.
Reply to
Bill Becker

There are different definitions of "craft beer." Some people define it as beer that is made without the adjuncts used by Bud, Coors, etc., to dumb the beer down and/or cheapen the brewing process. On this definition, the Samuel Adams beers are craft beer.
Most of the complaints *I've heard* about the SA beers aren't that they are not craft beers. The critcisms I've heard are that most of the SA beers are contract-brewed (something they've concealed in some of their advertising); the recipe allegedly of Jim Koch's great-great-great grandfather was actually devised by a well-known contemporary (though recently deceased) brewer; that the "cranberry lambic" isn't a lambic; that the "cherry wheat" beer tastes like cough syrup, etc. I personally don't have a problem with the SA beers being called craft beers, though I don't like most of them.
Reply to
Kyle

There probably isn't one. The closest you'll get is a brewer who uses only malt, hops, water and yeast in their beer, unless they're emulating styles that traditionally contain other ingredients (such as wheat in certain German or Belgian styles, or sugar in other Belgian styles).
Those last two would have a big part to do with those who would argue that Boston Beer Co. (the maker of Sam Adams) isn't a craft brewer. One is that they do market in mass media, the other is that in earlier days, they relied primarily on contract brewing to produce their product. They rely on it much less now. To my mind, annoyance at a beer's marketing efforts has nothing to do with whether they're craft brewed or not.
-Steve
Reply to
Steve Jackson

No actual spices, just hops. They do use the Centennial variety, which to my palate can lend a spicy orange-ish character to a beer. The more of this year's SNCA I drink the more I like it. I think it's as good as any other recent year.
Reply to
Joel

On 25 Nov 2006 07:06:50 -0800, "Comboverfish" wrote:
Nutcracker isn't a spiced beer, it's more of a strong amber ale. Nice and hoppy with a sweet malt base. The Goose Island is pretty similar to Nutcracker this year. The sixer I bought had been bottled just three weeks earlier. Really fresh and delicious.
Schlafly's Christmas Ale is a spiced beer, also around 8%. Not overly spiced. It didn't really do a whole lot for me.
I'm starting on the -tion beers. Celebration is good as always, next up is Great Divide Hibernation and O'Dell Isolation.
----------------------------------------------------- Pete Clouston Lawrence (KS) Brewers Guild
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Reply to
p. clouston

Huh. I'm having the opposite reaction. I'm liking it less - which is not to say I dislike it - the more I drink it. It's just not as interesting with such a subdued nose this year.
-Steve
Reply to
Steve Jackson
Our local bartender(here in NJ) just sent out this list of the seasonal beers they'll have in tomorrow. I have no idea how I'm going to try all of these, but I'll keep my chin up and be persistent.
Anything on the list that I should especially not miss?
Blue Point Winter Ale Boulder Never Summer Ale Chouffe N'Ice Chouffe Corsendonk Christmas Ale Flying Dog K-9 Cruiser Winter Ale Flying Dog Horn Dog Barleywine Harpoon Winter Warmer Jack's Winter Bourbon Cask Ale Lancaster Winter Warmer Ale Magic Hat Roxy Rolles Ramstein Winter Wheat Ridgeway Brewing Very Bad Elf Ridgeway Brewing Seriously Bad Elf Ridgeway Criminally Bad Elf Riverhorse Belgian Frost Bite Samichlaus Samuel Adams Winter Ale Samuel Smith Winter Welcome Scaldis Noel Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale Sly Fox Christmas Ale Smuttynose Winter Ale Troeg's Mad Elf Young's Winter Warmer
Reply to
Ben

I with you Steve, I thought the nose and taste were a noticeably weaker than previous years. I even went as far as mixing it 50/50 with Bigfoot liven it up a little.
eugene
Reply to
Eugene

Well, it depends on if you've had them before. But I wouldn't miss:
And I wouldn't go out of my way for:
These I"ve had (execept the last) and when in good condition have a nice "English-y" character. BUt I've had a few bottles that were distinctly not in good shape:
>Ridgeway Brewing Very Bad Elf >Ridgeway Brewing Seriously Bad Elf >Ridgeway Criminally Bad Elf
Reply to
Joel

I do think the aroma is a bit lacking, but when the beer opens up (don't drink it too cold!) I get plenty of flavor and bitterness along with the usual caramelly malt. IAslightlyVB,M.
Reply to
Joel

I enjoyed some last night at our local ale house. Classic Sierra Nevada 3-C hop profile. Yum!
nb
Reply to
notbob
Trader Joes Vintage Ale 2006 is a dark belgian style that should be the equal of the 2005 which was delicious.
Reply to
John S.
It's made by Unibroue (ooh! an exotic import from Canuckistan!), and isn't at all bad for the price. Doesn't seem to be the same thing as the "Edition" ale, though.
Reply to
dgs

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