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Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale

There’s no better way to get into the holiday spirit than to crack open a tasty winter seasonal.

The Celebration Ale comes in the traditional 12 oz Sierra Nevada bottle. A wintery scene with a quaint little cottage in the countryside adorns the label. Before I go any further, I want to thank De Vinos for hooking me up with a bottle. Tis the season!

The Celebration Ale has a rich amber color with golden hues; pouring a huge head that leaves behind beautiful lacing.

This is one pungent smelling brew. The powerful presence of floral hops smacks you in the face. Citrus and spice balance-out this ale.

The overall flavor of the Celebration Ale is as massive as the aroma. The hopped-up flavor is complimented with toasted malt, citrus, and a dash of spice. The 6.8% ABV is obvious in taste, but never overpowers. The alcohol provides a nice warming effect that is perfect on a brisk winter night.

The name says it all. A case of this awesome ale will quickly turn a festive gathering into a full-blown celebration.

Brewery website: http://www.sierranevada.com/

Arabier by De Dolle Brouwers

The Arabier’s unique label has a picture of a parrot holding a beer glass. If a parrot is going to have a beer, it might as well be good one. The Arabier is not just good, it is an exceptional Belgian ale.

The Arabier is a golden yellow color and pours with a mountain sized, off white colored head.

This light bodied beer has a nice mouthfeel and is very drinkable for having 8% ABV and moderate carbonation.

There are strong aromas of citrusy fruits, apples, and honey. These sweet smelling aromas are only the beginning of this complex beer.

The true beauty of this beer lies in the flavor. The citrus and fruit flavors are complimented with sweet honey and toasted malts. There are beers that have sweeter, more pronounced flavors. However, there are few that are this complex and well-balanced from start-to-finish.

The Arabier is a great example of what a lightly golden colored beer can be. It is unfortunate that so many people equate lighter colored beer to the mass produced swill created by the American mega breweries. Yeah, I’m talking about you Anheuser-Busch.

Arabier, preferred by parrots everywhere.

Brewery website: http://www.dedollebrouwers.be/

Autumn Maple by The Bruery

The Autumn Maple, by the Bruery, just might be the perfect beer to have with your Thanksgiving dinner.

The Autumn Maple is an unfiltered, bottle-conditioned, Belgian-style brown ale brewed with yams, molasses, maple syrup, and spices. The orange and brown label has maple leafs in the background, only fitting for a fall seasonal.

This mahogany colored ale pours with a large, light tan colored head. There are aromas of brown sugar and spices. Never having a beer brewed with yams, I certainly had some doubts on how this seasonal would taste.

Fortunately, this beer’s flavoring blew me away. There is not one flavor that overpowers the next. There is a perfect balance of brown sugar, syrup, and cinnamon with a subtle touch of yam. When thinking of ingredients to brew with beer, yams aren’t the first thing to come to mind. Good thing the folks at the Bruery like to think outside the box.

This maple flavored brew is medium bodied with mild carbonation. For having 10% ABV, it is surprisingly drinkable. The alcohol that is present provides a nice warming affect, perfect for a cold autumn night.

This seasonal by The Bruery is a deliciously unique brew. The label states, “We don’t need pumpkins in our beer!” I guess they’re right. When you got yams, who gives a damn about pumpkins?

Brewery website: http://www.thebruery.com/

Kerstmutske Christmas Nightcap by Brouwerij Slaapmutske

The Nightcap’s label has a picture of a smiling, sleeping moon who looks very content.

This 7.4% ABV Belgian seasonal comes in a corked, 750 ml bottle.

The Nightcap is a mahogany color with hues of purple. It pours with a light beige colored head that leaves behind beautiful lacing.

It has aromas of dark fruits (berries and plums) and caramel with spicy (possibly nutmeg and cinnamon) undertones. The aromas of this beer are very strong and inviting.

The flavors are not as robust as the aromas, which I found a tad disappointing. The berry, plum, caramel and spice flavors are all well balanced but a little on the light side. If the flavors were more pronounced, this beer would be an absolute marvel.

The drinkability and the mouthfeel more than make up for the light flavors. This creamy, medium bodied brew, is a joy to drink. When trying to think of a way to describe the drinkability, smooth jazz comes to mind.

Overall, I am pleased with the Kerstmutske Christmas Nightcap. Like the moon on the label, I too am smiling after finishing this seasonal Belgian brew.

Brewery website: http://www.slaapmutske.be/

Feast of Fools Variety Pack from Magic Hat

The Feast of Fools variety 12-pack comes with three bottles each of four different ales, the #9, Lucky Kat, Winter Odd Notion 09, and the Howl (click each beer for my full review).

The variety of beers in this sampler pack is impressive. The Howl and the #9 are about as far apart on the flavor spectrum as you can get. The Howl is a black-as-night winter seasonal with pungent coffee, chocolate, and smoke flavors. The #9, on the other hand, has an incredibly strong apricot flavor.

At $14 for the 12-pack, I think the Feast of Fools is a good deal for anyone who is a fan of Magic Hat. If you aren’t a fan of the #9 or Lucky Kat, I would recommend picking up a 6-pack of Howl this holiday season. In my opinion, it is by far the best of the bunch.

Magic Hat's #9

Magic Hat's #9

The Magic Hat #9, according to the brewer, is not quite a pale ale. I will agree with them. From the psychedelic swirling orange label, to the super strong apricot flavor, this is not your typical pale ale.

The first time I had a #9 I thought it was the greatest beer ever. I was in college, and to be honest, it was probably the best beer I had up to that point. I was like most college students, I preferred quantity over quality. You can’t really play (or afford to play) beer pong with an artisan beer like a St. Bernardus Abt 12.

The #9 is a light, translucent amber color that pours with a thick, fluffy white head. After the head dissipates, it leaves behind pretty nice lacing.

The #9 smells so sweet and fruity that it reminds me of apricot flavored gummy bears. Like the smell, the #9 tastes extremely sweet with flavors of apricot and peach. These flavors, especially the strength of them, will not be for everyone. If you do enjoy these characteristics, you may find this beer very enjoyable.

The #9 is different, and sometimes different is good. My flavor preferences have definitely changed since the first time I tried this interesting ale. I would no longer claim that it is the greatest beer of all time. The thing that I like about Magic Hat is that they try to be different. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

If you enjoy strong fruit (and more specifically, apricot) flavors and aromas in your alcoholic beverages, you need to try this not so pale ale.

Brewery website: http://www.magichat.net/

Magic Hat’s #9

Magic Hat's #9

The Magic Hat #9, according to the brewer, is not quite a pale ale. I will agree with them. From the psychedelic swirling orange label, to the super strong apricot flavor, this is not your typical pale ale.

The first time I had a #9 I thought it was the greatest beer ever. I was in college, and to be honest, it was probably the best beer I had up to that point. I was like most college students, I preferred quantity over quality. You can’t really play (or afford to play) beer pong with an artisan beer like a St. Bernardus Abt 12.

The #9 is a light, translucent amber color that pours with a thick, fluffy white head. After the head dissipates, it leaves behind pretty nice lacing.

The #9 smells so sweet and fruity that it reminds me of apricot flavored gummy bears. Like the smell, the #9 tastes extremely sweet with flavors of apricot and peach. These flavors, especially the strength of them, will not be for everyone. If you do enjoy these characteristics, you may find this beer very enjoyable.

The #9 is different, and sometimes different is good. My flavor preferences have definitely changed since the first time I tried this interesting ale. I would no longer claim that it is the greatest beer of all time. The thing that I like about Magic Hat is that they try to be different. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

If you enjoy strong fruit (and more specifically, apricot) flavors and aromas in your alcoholic beverages, you need to try this not so pale ale.

Brewery website: http://www.magichat.net/

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