Brewed by Spendrups Bryggeri · Vårby · Sweden
Read more www.spendrups.se
By now your chimney’s probably already been swept clean and Santa’s also long gone, back at the North Pole taking a well deserved 300-day long rest before things start picking up again for the 2012 season. Still there’s a bottle of Xmas ale in my cupboard that needs reviewing.
I’m begining to take somewhat of a liking to Spendrup’s craft beer department Brutal Brewing and their beers, commonly marketed and sold under the name Piston Head. It’s perhaps not the most complex or best of beers but they do a pretty good job creating drinkable, in the middle of the road, craft beer available to the majority of people and that’s got to count for something I believe. Let’s see what’s hiding underneath the cap on this one…
I let a dark but clean and clear burgundy splash into my Anchor Steam-decorated pint glass. The pour produces a fluffy and creamy faded Post-it®-yellow three finger foam collar, leaving behind some random sticky lacing on the glass.
Caramalts with light American hops, the Tomahawk/Columbus and Cascade coming through. The malt base is faintly sweet Coke and fudgy scented as well as slightly roasted.
Maillard flavored, with predominantly roasted and caramalized malts. The funky “C”-hops are present, making a graceful leap from the nose to flavor. Nothing is coming on too strong though, not even the bitterness of the Magnum. As the beer warms I get orange peel and dark bread plus some fresh fruitiness.
First off the body is a light medium. Refreshing and maybe a bit watery for being an ale. The carbonation is packed with lots of small bubbles, washing the flavors of the beer over the palate. Finishing it off is a long medium bitterness.
Overall impression 7/10
Damn, I like this, although it’s nothing too exciting it is a robust enough beer fit for food or casual drinking. I like the fact that it’s not as heavily spiced like many other Xmas beers. What really caught my attention was the carbonation and mouthfeel, it’s light and refreshing yet it brings out the full flavor of the beer too.
Chimney Sweeper is part of Systembolaget’s Xmas release, check for availability.
Total Score 35/50
Very Good – Generally within style parameters, some minor flaws
Brewed by Abita Brewing Co · Abita Springs · Louisiana · United States
Read more www.abita.com
Christmas is drawing near and I assume most you are out there hasting about, engaged in shopping, decorating the tree, wrapping gifts, stirring that eggnog or just kicking back eating a box of chocolates enjoying some old nostalgic flick you’ve seen like a million times. So why not cop a squat and press play for that old-time favorite of yours? I know it’s nostalgia talking now, but if there’s one movie I can see over and over again it’s Eddie Murphy’s Coming to America. That is a recommendation.
Oh yeah and the beer tonight is Louisiana’s own Abita’s Christmas Ale. A seasonal available between the months of November and December. Apparently the recipe changes every year, but this is my first so there is no comparison to be made. Hold on to your Santa’s hats because here we go…
The bottle cap reads, “Pry Off Cap, Abita!”, well let’s just do that and see what jumps at us. It’s a clear deep dark brown with ruby red highlights, producing a tight and creamy stain-yellow head just short of a finger’s height. Semi-impressive retention which last for two mintunes leaving a ring of tight foam around the ring of the glass and bigger bubbles in the center. Beautiful but saggy curtains that collapse instantly. It has the look of Christmas, if you know what I mean.
The nose on this come to me gently with soft and roasted malts plus some light chocolate and oat notes. Other aromas are dark rye bread, that of pumpernickel (the German version that is) and very faint dark fruits (mostly figs and dates). Letting it sink in a while and the dark fruits do more remind me of blackberry jam than anything else. Finally I pick up some vague tobacco flavors. When the beers warms up a bit I get some hops too.
First and foremost there’s roasted malts. It’s not too sweet a deal but malt is towards the cereal part of the spectrum. Definitely a chocolate and coffee taste too. There’re light and scattered leather and tar flavors, but it’s mostly the roasted malt that come back to me. A faint bitterness is there just a glimpse and then gone again. I never pick up any massive amounts of sugar but the flavors stays on for quite a while anyway.
The mouthfeel’s thin. It’s a light and watery liquid, heavily carbonated with small bubbles.
Overall impression 7/10
Abita’s Xmas ale is an elegant but not complex beer with a nice malt and hops balance. It’s labeled an American brown ale but it does in my opinion come closer to something like an amber ale. It’s simply not as not as rich or full-bodied as a brown ale plus the color does stretch towards red a lot. It has a subtle but extremely wide flavor palette which I think the people at Abita composed terrifically well. It is a subtle one though and this fact makes it a thirst quencher for the Christmas table.
The commercial description suggests you try having gingerbread, spiced nuts, Blue cheese or Camembert as a pairing. I had it with a piece of dark chocolate and they did accompany each other very well, specifically in bitterness.
Total Score 34/50
Very Good – Generally within style parameters, some minor flaws.
Brewed by Beer Here · Frederikssund · Denmark
Read more www.beerhere.dk
I don’t know what it is, but beers with interesting/good looking labels on them, makes me want to try them. And the label on this beer, namely Beer Here’s Høst Citra is to say the least, quite special. So without much pondering, into the shopping basket it went.
This beer was part of a batch of autumn beers, released on systembolaget earlier this year. It’s original name appears to be Beer Here Kama Citra, but for some reason it’s been re-branded here in Sweden, as Beer Here Høst Citra. If anyone have more input on, as to way, please add a comment and share it with the rest of us.
Pours almost pitch-black, held up towards the light makes a couple of reddish rays shoot out from the glass. Has a nice bubbly beige-colored two fingered head, which seems to stay intact for a long period of time.
Wow, the hops in this beer is the first thing that hits you, very flowery, citrus and a lot of tropical fruitiness. Some burned, caramel, roasted tones comes through as well.
A pleasurable roasted, caramel, chocolaty flavor, mixed with the bitterness from the hops gives this beer a pretty complex character. The flavor somehow feels very autumn like, rainy days and yellow leafs comes to mind.
Has a light to medium body. Good carbonation. The bitterness in this beer is very lingering and will follow you from your first to your last sip.
Overall impression 8/10
This beer’s intriguing label goes very well with this beer’s equally interesting flavor. It’s like a marriage between a Brown Ale, with its sweetness/maltiness and a India Pale Ale, with its hoppiness/bitterness. Beer Here/Christian Skovdal Andersen always produces interesting and sometimes experimental type beers, and this one is no exception.
Total Score 37/50
Very Good – Generally within style parameters, some minor flaws
Brewed by Mikkeller · Copenhagen · Denmark
Read more www.mikkeller.dk
Gypsy brewer Mikkel Borg Bergsø had made quite a name for himself in the world of beer the last couple of years. Let me rephrase that. The guy’s a fucking genius! He’s putting out more beers than most other guys out there and amazingly more over is that most of them are great beers. If you ever get the chance to pop by his establishment in Copenhagen, do take that chance.
The liquid’s a rich and dark brown with a frothy small crown of foam perched on top.
Estery and sweet flavor, reminding me of high grade chocolate and coffee.
A very hoppy character with sprinkles of chocolate that later turns to the back of my tongue and ends on the bitter side.
Somewhere in the medium section. Well balanced with a fizzy finish. A very agreeable aspect of this ale!
Overall impression 9/10
My first go at a beer from Mikkeller’s assortment and I’m not disappointed about it all. This brew takes me to happy places and is somewhat reminiscent of that Julmust (Xmas Root Beer) that I had a lot of as a child.
Jackie Brown’s part of Systembolaget’s permanent assortment. When(not if) will there be more from Mikkeller on the shelves? Jackie Brown is brewed at Brouwerij De Proef’s premises in Lochristi, Belgium.
Total Score 41/50
Excellent – Exemplifies style well, requires minor fine-tuning.