Winter Ale Showdown

No, your eyes do not deceive you.  This is a WINTER ale showdown.  Technically it’s still winter, and tasting 30 beers in a short amount of time is tough for a girl that works nights.

Please don’t be thrown, my dear readers, I’m not turning this into a beer a blog, but I am passing along my love of the brew when it seems fitting.  I’m hoping to do seasonal round-ups and tastings to pass my findings along to you, and to encourage your own tastings.  There are a fantastic time to do my other favorite things, i.e. cooking and eating.

As evidenced by my constant cooking with beer – I love the stuff.  It has soul.  It has heart.  A good beer is the result of thoughtful and artistic choices on every level of production.  I’m not going to go into a sermon on the stuff – but you now know where I stand.

I rounded up thirty ales for this tasting that took place over the course of about two months.  Big thanks to my five other tasters who offered their thoughts and critiques.

There’s no way you could get six people to agree on their favs, so the top ten are mainly my calls, although tasting notes from all are included in their descriptions.

Hopefully, you’ll remember these next year and choose wisely when you head to the beer store.

I couldn’t rate the top ten in order – so alphabetical it is!

The Bruery – 2 Turtle Doves, 3 French Hens.  Belgian Strong Dark Ale.  These are both off the charts.  Can’t wait to taste everything in this series.  WOW.

Goose Island – Honker’s Ale.  English Bitter.  Touch of caramel with honey, tea and flavorful.  Super drinkable.

Long Trail – Hibernator. Fantastic representation of a Scottish Ale. Great chewy malt.

Magic Hat – Howl. Schwarzbier.  Smooth, earthy, hints of bourbon and agedness.  A roasted malt.  Sweetness in the after taste.

RJ Rockers – The First Snow Ale.  Winter Warmer. Spicy smell.  Smooth taste.  Fruitiness paired with slight hop bitterness.  Cardamom, nutmeg and very wintry.

St. Bernardus – Christmas Ale. Belgian Strong Dark Ale.  Plums, brown sugar, fruity and yeasty.  This beer begs to be consumed at a holiday affair.

St. Feuillien – Cuvée De Noël. Belgian Strong Dark Ale.  Chocolate, licorice root and orange come through strongly.  Would be perfect for sipping by a fire.

St. Nikolaus – Bock Bier. Doppelbock.  This was the radness.  Chocolately, smooth, sweet toffee and caramelized sugars made this super enjoyable.  Raisin and date flavor also present.

Southern Tier – Krampus. American Double / Imperial Pilsner. Hoppy, wild flowers, brown sugar and caramel make this super enjoyable and big.

Thirsty Dog – 12 Dogs of Christmas Ale.  Winter Warmer.  Tons of cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg off the bat.  It’s complex, drinkable and all that I’m looking for in something that advertises “Winter.”

Honorable mention – Delirium Noël & Tröegs Mad Elf – they’re nothing to turn your nose up at.

I’m looking forward to Spring time brews – less heavy and less in the way of ABV!

6 thoughts on “Winter Ale Showdown

  1. Thanks for the round-up. Next time you should try to get your hands on an Anderson Valley Winter Solstice – delicious! And we wait all year for the Summer Solstice.

  2. Yay, beer talk.

    Great list! I missed the first two “days” in the Bruery 12 Beers of Christmas series but I did manage to score a bottle of 3 French Hens. SO good.

    Krampus is great. I look forward to its release every year. The story on the bottle rules.

  3. oh my – a blonde who enjoys ale enough to blog about it…I’m in love. I am a big fan of Rogue Santa’s Private Reserve…but for some reason the shops around me sold out of it before I could purchase any last year. I look forward to the next beer review…Sam Adams Noble Pils is worthy. Sierra Nevada, Deschutes and Stone are a few of my favorite breweries. My local Rahr brewery is starting to grow on me.

  4. I love that you love beer. I’m also a lady that loves her brews and get a lot of hell for it from my female friends.

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