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Saturday, January 21, 2012

Bell's Brewery - Christmas Ale

Christmas Ale is a winter seasonal from Michigan's Bell's Brewery. Bell's touts it as a sessionable holiday beer designed to contrast against spiced winter ales. 

5.5% ABV

Appearance 
The deep copper color and hazy appearance give Bell's Christmas Ale a warm, welcoming glow. It's loaded with ultrafine carbonation, which feeds into a thin, off-white head.

Aroma 
The aroma is filled with lightly toasted malt notes. Spicy hops offset sweet autumn fruit  and toffee scents.

Taste & Feel 
This is a dry, light-bodied ale. The carbonation is rather aggressive up front and, although it fades, never really disappears. Flavors include apple, nuts and toffee. The hops add just enough balance and a bit of spiciness before leaving a nutty finish. 

Verdict
Flavorful, but easy to drink. It drinks well on it's own, but isn't so bold that it can't be paired with a meal or a dessert. I can definitely see exactly what Bell's was trying to achieve. Worth a try.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Bison Brewing - Gingerbread Ale

Gingerbread Ale is a spiced holiday porter. Not surprisingly, it is brewed with ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon. Of course, being a Bison brew, the spices and hops are all organic. This is a fall seasonal that I picked up in early November. Meant to save it for Christmas, but I'm just now getting to it.

 6.0% ABV

Appearance 
This beer is a dark, cola brown color and is nearly opaque. Only a small sliver of light is visible near the bottom edge of the glass. It is capped by a thin, creamy, off-white head. 

Aroma 
Gingerbread Ale pretty much smells exactly like gingerbread dough. The aroma is dominated by a robust, spicy malt featuring plenty of nutmeg and a sweet molasses touch. As it warms, the molasses softens into a warm brown sugar scent. No sign of hops in the aroma.

Taste & Feel 
Again, no surprises. The flavor is sweet and spicy, with molasses and nutmeg being the key players. The flavor is consistent from start to finish, leaving a spicy aftertaste after the sweetness disappears. It's a medium-bodied brew, with a a creamy base that lies just beneath its spicy bite.

Verdict
A pretty solid holiday ale. The flavor begs for a dessert to accompany it, as the spicy notes can be a bit much on their own. Grab something sweet, and a couple of these to wash it down. I'd give it a B+.



Sunday, January 1, 2012

Samuel Adams - Infinium (2011)

Infinium is a limited-release seasonal collaboration between Sam Adams and Germany's Weihenstephan, the world's oldest brewery. Part of the uniqueness is that they set out to create a new style while sticking to the traditional four brewing ingredients.

Infinium comes corked and caged, in a 750ml champagne bottle, and is not cheap. I paid $20 for a bottle at Total Wine, which was limiting purchases to two per customer.

10.3% ABV

Appearance 
Infinium pours a honey-amber color with a hazy appearance. It has champagne-like carbonation and the explosion of fine bubbles creates a thin, fizzy white head.

Aroma 
This beer has a light, sweet aroma. The malt is filled with honey and apricots, while citrusy hops notes round out the bouquet.

Taste & Feel
Wow... this is incredibly carbonated. Thin body, but very sweet and somewhat tart up front, with hints of apricot and orange marmalade. It's a bit aggressive through the middle with a citrusy hop flavor paired with a slight spiciness. More orange marmalade comes through toward the finish, before giving way to a perfumy, floral aftertaste. Despite being a higher-alcohol brew, you really can't taste it.

Verdict
It's great. Definitely amazing that they were able to craft such a unique beer while conforming to Reinheitsgebot.

Now, I'd be lying if I said it was one of my all-time favorites, but its unique character and relative rarity makes Infimium worth shelling out twenty bucks to get yours hands on a bottle. 

Also, I normally wouldn't say this, but this is definitely a beer to share. Typically, I can finish a bottle this size in one sitting by myself, but between the sweet flavor and intense mouthfeel, I think this warrants at least two people to drink it. Besides, at twenty bucks apiece, you may want to go halves on it.