Wednesday, November 08, 2006


The holiday/Christmas beers seem to have all hit the shelves this past week or two, and I couldn't be happier. This "style" - which can of course be many styles, characterized by nothing so much as spices & a general comforting malty robustness, is among my very favorites, and I'm counting the days until PACIFIC COAST BREWING's Holiday Ale festival in less than a month. The first two out of the gate for me were the first two I saw on the shelves - ALASKAN BREWING's 2006 WINTER ALE, and a perennial favorite of mine, DESCHUTES BREWING's 2006 JUBELALE.

The ALASKAN stumbled a bit out of the blocks, I'm afraid. I was hoping for the deep malts and rich aromas of a classic Christmas brew, and what I got was something on the mediocre side. This brew felt a little thin and a bit underspiced – but at the same time still had some intense malt flavor that saved it from relegation to a middle-of-the-curve-of-all-beers-in-the-known-universe rating of below 6. I’m going with 6.5/10, but with so many other choices on tap the next couple of months, I’m predicting I won’t head back to the Alaskan Winter trough before New Year’s.

That said, I will probably buy one of more six-packs of DESCHUTES JUBELALE in a hurry and sock them away for the winter – or perhaps drink them in rapid-fire succession. Wow. This one is closing in on perfect – while fairly uppity on alcohol (6.7%), general feel of this one is pure holiday warmth, like chestnuts & eggnog & forty gifts for me under the tree. If you know what you’re looking for in a classic holiday beer, trust me, it’s all here – with the injection of a bit more of a “fruit” taste to boot, as well as a rich roasted malt flavor. Love it – 9/10. Even my local Safeway has three more brands I’m itching to try, so expect more holiday hoopla in these pages in coming weeks.


socialretard said...

Been doing the winter brews also. Two that I've liked so far:

Rogue Santa's Private Reserve (good balance of hops and malts with a bit of pine/spruce)

Avery Old Jubilation (dark amber, chocolatey, rich)

Anonymous said...

I heart the X-mas beer as much as the next fella and hope to make it to Pacific Coast's pouring. In my mind the predictable Sierra Nevada Celebration never disappoints..just strong red IPA with a tad of seasonal lovin'. I hope to try lots of other brands in the next 2 months since it tis the season...(we're dipping into the mid-50's in the Bay Area these days......yipes)