Covering University of Colorado sports, mostly basketball, since 2010

Friday, December 10, 2010

Friday Beer Post: Winter Seasonals

I don't usually like winter seasonal efforts.  Apparently called "Winter Warmers" these beers are usually my least favorite offerings from my favorite breweries (Case in point, Avery's Old Jubilation is, by far, my least favorite Avery effort).  Besides being heavy on the malt, these beers often get railroaded with "special ingredients" which make me believe the brewmaster forgot the whole beer part of the beer.  In addition, they can often come out overly sweet.  I get the point; the winter months are supposed to be a time for convenient use of holiday themed ingredients and sweet-to-the-tooth flavors to drive up sales, but do we have to go overboard with them?  Mostly, the genre just isn't for me.  That said, I have found 2 versions over the years that I've actually enjoyed. 

Years ago (when I may or may not have been of legal drinking age......... *cough* *cough*) I was head-over-heels for Sam Adams.  While I've cooled down in that respect (to the point that I can't honestly remember my last Boston Lager) their Old Fezziwig Ale made a lasting impression on me.  Only available in their Winter Mix Pack, and named after the jovial character from Scrooge's past, the beer is brewed with cinnamon, ginger, and orange peel.  I remember it having a pleasant chocolate/caramel aftertaste.  I used to buy the seasonal pack just for this beer, and it was one of the first beers to really open my eyes to the use of "non-traditional" brewing ingredients.  

A more recent selection is Alaskan Brewing Company's Winter Ale.  I tried this for the first time this year and fell in love with it.  As I said at the top, I don't typically like "Winter Warmers" because of their over-emphasis on malts.  Alaskan's Winter Warmer doesn't necessarily have that problem.  I get strong hoppy overtones which balance this beer out.  The "special" ingredient in the Winter Ale is Sitka Spruce Tops, whatever the fuck that means.  All I know is that I get a creamy, fruity flavor when I drink it; hard to describe, it's like a bitter-less cranberry.  Surprisingly, I don't mind the sweet fruity flavors in this one; in fact I rather enjoy them.  It's a decent session beer, and one that I think does better when it's closer to room temperature than "straight-out-of-the-fridge" cold.

Hey, I may not necessarily like the style, but tis the season, and all of that.

Happy Friday!

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