It’s holiday time! (Well, with good beer, when isn’t it?) Even though the weather on the East Coast has been incredibly mild, it’s time for winter warmers, holiday beers, Christmas beers. So let this be the official start for this blog!
Growler and Gill usually has some “red star” special beers that aren’t eligible for inclusion in flights. These are often ones in limited release or higher alcohol or both. Last night I saw they were offering “Super Flights” which could consist entirely of those “red star” beers. Most of the current batch were holiday offerings, and it’s definitely the time for those. Preflight, though, I had this one:
Hailing from Michigan, this pours almost opaque darkest brown with a brief tan head. The delicious nose delivers spices & malt with a liqueur hint. On first gulp you get a big mouthfeel (yet still refreshing) with roastiness and dark malts plus a light sweetness. The spice comes back in on the transition to the finish with clove and nutmeg and a hint of hops. The big flavor makes this a tough act to follow. It destroyed the next beer I tasted, and I won’t name that beer–a light holiday ale–because it wasn’t a fair fight. 8.75% ABV
Now on to the Super Flight!
Crossing the pond to Wallonia, this big beer is chestnut brown in the glass with no head at all.The aroma is of super molasses and caramel malt. The flavor is raisiny and intense with tons of malt, and the finish is long, smooth, sweet and boozy. This is really interesting–perhaps even challenging–and will stand up to anything. 12.5% ABV
Moving on to Denmark, I had the Grand Marnier barrel aged version of this Belgian Strong Ale a couple of weeks ago, and I have a 750ml bottle of the regular green label waiting for Christmas. This time it’s the “regular” on tap, yielding a brown glass with ruby highlights and a small off white head. The nose is restrained cara malt with a hint of smoke. The flavor continues caramel with a ton of malt. (Clearly we have a theme of Big Malt for these special holiday beers!) This has another long smooth finish with increasing caramel, but it doesn’t have the depth and balance of the Scaldis. I’m a little disappointed, but it’s hard to follow the Scaldis. 11.0% ABV
Now we cross the North Sea for the British Pale Ale, hazy straw-gold with a moderate white head. Leads with a powerful nose, fruity, apple cider like with strong malts like cake and spice bread. The mouthfeel is smooth and palate coating with complex flavors including toffee and a fruit brandy flavor rather than a cidery flavor. Continues with a long liqueur finish, very smooth. 7.5% ABV
Prairie Artisan Ales Christmas Bomb!
Back across the Atlantic into the heartland of Oklahoma, Prairie takes their excellent Bomb! and readies it for the holidays. This Imperial Stout pours dark brown with a medium off tan head. The spicy toffee nose comes with strong, complex dark malts. The flavor is like biting into a great spice cookie with nutmeg & cinnamon & allspice, and yes, you can practically chew it. This flows into a very long spicy finish with crystal malt tones. Use this one with–or in place of–dessert! 11.5% ABV
If that was dessert, then this can be the after dinner drink. Finishing this holiday trip in Delaware, this Imperial Stout is very dark brown with a big long lasting creamy tan head. Starts with a nose of chocolate and dark malt, followed by super smooth flavor continuing the chocolate and rich dark malt. The finish is lightly spicy, and since the beer coats your whole mouth, that finish goes on and on. So this isn’t a holiday beer? Give yourself a present of the Miles Davis album of the same name, and savor the beer with the jazz. 9% ABV