Monday, December 04, 2006


It was a big weekend that started on Thursday - the new Friday - and I was able to manage three new holiday beers down the gullet that I know you're waiting for me to rate so you know what life moves to make next. Here's what I discovered:

1. AFFLIGEM NOEL - This is quite likely the first Belgian holiday-themed ale I’ve ever tasted, and odds are it’s going to be one of the better ones I’ll have in this year’s campaign. Very dark, very strong (9% alcohol) and with a massive head I had to wait five minutes for to calm down. A very candied flavor, balanced extremely well by the alcohol for a warm and inviting blend. At $8.99 a bottle, it better damn well be good. 8/10.

2. SIERRA NEVADA CELEBRATION ALE – I’ve read some conflicting reports on the World Wide Web about this one; some claim that it’s manna from heaven, and the finest holiday brew of all time, while others opine that the 2006 “varietal” just doesn’t have the same oomph of previous years’ versions. I can’t really remember what I thought of earlier years’ editions, and this one is just fine, if a little basic. Sort of like Sierra Nevada itself. Mildly spiced, fairly deep & rich in taste, and smooth enough for repeat drinking. And lucky enough, available just about everywhere. 7/10.

3. BIG SKY BREWING POWDER HOUND – Tasted this on tap at Barclay’s in Oakland, CA last week against my better judgment – these are the folks that make “Moose Drool” beer, and advance word on the Powder Hound was that it was way too thin and pretty weak in general. Well, it was – but it was still tasty enough. I don’t know why they felt that “water” needed to be the dominant taste in this one, but thankfully Big Sky had the foresight to throw in some roasted malts and light sugary tastes to make it tolerable. I likely wouldn’t order it nor buy it again, but then, you never know when you’re going to belly up to the bar and find this, Stroh’s, Meister Brau and Coors Light as your only choices. It could happen. 6/10.


Anonymous said...

Hey, I had one of these Affligem Noels this weekend & the bottle looked totally different! Got it at the Davis Nugget. I wonder if it was last year's? The label was brown - perhaps the most un-Christmas-ey looking label I've ever seen on a holiday beer! Also, not sure how hard it is to track down, but last year's Fantome Noel from Belgium was quite possibly the best Christmas beer I've ever had. I've yet to see a 2006 bottle though.


Anonymous said...

Oh yeah, and I tried a Sierra Celebration this year & I was convinced the bar had accidentally poured me a regular ol' Sierra Pale. Definitely weaker than previous years. The Anchor this year is one of my favorites of their recent Christmas batches - a little smoother than previous years. Still basically a curio though. I'm psyched when it comes out but I wouldn't drink it year-round.

scott (again)

mumbly said...

Ahhh, the annual Celebration question, how does it compare to previous years. Seems like I've heard it before:

It's hard with something like Celebration and after so many beers have made bigger and bolder beers while Sierra sticks with the classics. I still think SNPA bottled is one fantastic beer, but it doesn't have as much umph as so many beers these days and thus falls under the radar. Similarly with Celebration. I still think it is great, though noticed this year's had a bit of a rough finish.