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Archive for the ‘Seasonal’ Category

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/

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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/

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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/

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The Odd Notion Winter by Magic Hat

According to the label, “Magic Hat’s Odd Notions are a series of exceptional (and mostly odd), limited quantity, specialty craft releases.” I was intrigued by this bold statement and was looking forward to finding out which adjective best described this brew, odd or exceptional.

The label has a picture of a candy-cane colored tower with falling snow and a sleigh in the background. A pretty odd label, if you ask me.

The Odd Notion Winter is brown in color with orange hues around the edges of the glass. It pours with a massive tan head and has strong apricot, orange, and floral aromas.

The Odd Notion has a sour citrus flavor with hints of honey and bready malts that help balance the flavoring. At only 4.5% ABV, this is a very drinkable beer that won’t end your evening after having a couple.

I was expecting a much different beer when I first held the bottle in my hand, which isn’t a bad thing. When I hear winter seasonal, I picture a darker, thicker beer, like Magic Hat’s Howl.

I think the adjective odd does an accurate job of describing this winter seasonal. There was certainly something different about this brew, but then again, maybe that’s what Magic Hat intended.

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

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Howl Winter Seasonal by Magic Hat

Howl Winter Seasonal by Magic Hat

The Howl page on Magic Hat’s website is so damn cool it demands a look. Here is Magic Hat’s description of their dark black ale.

“Born of dark, cold and snow in the MARROW of the North East’s longest night, HOWL comes in on WAILING winds with winter-weary eyes, burning holes in sunless shadows. In it’s darkened depths our inner voids are warmed. HOWL will remain until your bones are thawed, your spirit is freed… and until there is no longer a NEED…”

That certainly got me excited to sample this black ale.

The Howl pours as black as a demon’s soul with a large, caramel colored head. I opened the bottle and set it about two feet away and all of a sudden I was smacked in the face by strong coffee, chocolate, and smoke aromas.

Like the smell, there are chocolate and coffee flavors with hints of roasted malt and smoke. The howl has a pretty low ABV at 4.6%. I was shocked that the ABV was this low after drinking half the beer. There is not a strong alcohol presence, but for as flavorful and dark as the beer is, I just assumed that it was at least 7%.

Being 4.6% definitely makes this a drinkable dark ale. If you are looking for a flavorful, dark seasonal brew to have before hitting the town, this is not a bad option. You will have a HOWL of a good time.

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

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Dogfish Head Punkin Ale

Dogfish Head Punkin Ale

Since today is Halloween, I think it is only right to start the day with one of my favorite seasonal beers, the Dogfish Head Punkin Ale.

I have always enjoyed the fall. There is Halloween, my birthday, the changing leaves, the crisp and cool air, and last, but certainly not least, the seasonal beers!

Let me start off by saying this, I love all things pumpkin, but have never been a huge fan of pumpkin flavored beer, until now. This may have been because I was over exposed to seasonal beers like Blue Moon, that never really hit the spot. The day I tried the Punkin Ale by Dogfish Head, was the day my impressions of beer and pumpkin combinations changed forever.

The Punkin Ale has the classic Dogfish Head label. There is the picture of a shark at the top and text describing the beer and its ingredients.

It is a full-bodied, 7% brown ale brewed with real pumpkin, brown sugar, cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg. The beer pours out with very little head. It is light amber and copper in color and has a crisp, light hearted aroma of pumpkin and spices. I knew after the first smell that this beer was going to be delicious, and I was right.

More often than not, in my opinion, pumpkin beers are completely overpowered by pumpkin flavoring. Dogfish Head does a great job of combining a brown ale with the natural flavors of pumpkin and spices that compliment, not dominate, the taste of the ale. If you like seasonal beers, and want to try a real pumpkin ale, look no further.

The Dogfish Head Punkin Ale gets it right. A very well balanced brown ale that is good on all levels.

Happy Halloween everyone!

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

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