Ales for the Holidays
By Charlotta Jarborg
1. Blue Moon – Full Moon Winter Ale
While their pumpkin concoction was a swing and a miss, this cleverly titled brew hits a homerun. The Colorado based Coors brewing company do a great job on their normal version of this Belgian Pale Ale style, and this Christmas flavor delivers. My tasting panel agreed that the mix of spices and caramel gave it a nice, warm holiday feel. If Yankee Candle tookone of their holiday candles and turned it into a beer, this would be it. And we mean that in a great way. The snowy label will make you smile every time you open your fridge door, provided your stash lasts that long. Annoying relatives staying with you this Christmas? Nothing a little Blue Moon Full Moon cannot handle.
2. Samuel Adams – Old Fezziwig Ale
Who can resist the charm of such a name? Just to use that name in your answer when your friends ask you what you are drinking is reason enough to include this beer in your holiday social gatherings. With the first sip you are transported back to Dickensian times, sitting by a blazing fire while Tiny Tim fetches more wood as you kick back with a seasonal pint of Fezziwig. Sam Adams definitely captured the holiday spirit with essences of orange peel, cinnamon and ginger. No fireplace at home? No biggie, just pop in your favorite Christmas movie, have a Fezziwig and that will bring on the holiday cheer.
3. Blue & Gray Brewing Co.
Christmas Cranberry Ale – Blue
As Mary Wash is located in Fredericksburg, it would be a shame not to take a piece of the Burg with you as you go back home for the holidays. Of all the berries, cranberry is the Christmas berry and this flavorful beer proves an excellent source. This fairly dark brown beer with Christmas crimson glints has a fruity taste with a hint of caramel. The sugary effect of caramel balances out the tartness of the cranberry making it quite a drinkable beer, although perhaps not in huge quantities. The tasting panel agreed that they would not drink this beer on a regular basis, but for the holidays we could consider it to be an after dinner ale perhaps instead of dessert?
4. Samuel Adams – Holiday Porter
The rest of the year, you could certainly agree that Sam Adams is “always a good decision.” Just in time for Christmas, the New England brewery released a couple of seasonal flavored ales. So is the “Holiday Porter” good enough to last you through the holidays? My tasting panel and I thought it had somewhat of a strange aftertaste; however it does improve after a couple of sips. Then again, is that not the case with all alcohol? As intoxication increases, taste buds die. Some research on the aptly named site http://beeradvocate.com revealed that this beer has a taste of roast chocolate, which probably explains the creaminess we tasted, which one normally does not associate with beer. Chocolate lovers, look no further for your holiday booze fix.
5. Blue Moon – Pumpkin
A slight warning to all Blue Moon fans, as festive and interesting as this beer sounds – it ends up being pretty disappointing. At first we expected it to have the flavor shot of pumpkin pie (the king of all pies this holiday season), which could be pretty delicious. However, rather than opting for the sweet version of pumpkin, this beer just tastes like straight up…pumpkin. As if you broke off a piece of the one you carved or heaven forbid, smashed, this Halloween and had a nice little chew along side your Blue Moon. We decided to go ahead and say nay to this one. Good idea, poor execution.