Saturday, December 4, 2010

011. It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas Ale!

Ah, the season is coming, the cat is getting fat (we don't have a goose), and the chilly weather makes me want to sip the bounty of seasonal brews that have hit the stores.

I'm going to be hitting a bunch in short order here (to try to get them in before Christmas, and to catch up on some overdue posts before the end of the year). So, please forgive me if my usual musings meander toward the pith side for a few weeks.

This Friday night finds me with a pair of 12-ounce bottles of Breckenridge Brewery's Christmas Ale. I picked up a six pack before Thanksgiving and have been sipping on it ever since (stuffed it in my stocking at Spec's NW on FM 1960 in Houston for about $8 or $9). Since I'm down to my last two bottles, it's time for the write up.

Before I dive in, though, I'd like to mention the cool, retro label. It's printed on an uncoated paper designed to make it feel old-fashioned. It definitely works, as the main label is almost entirely red and green, printed over a faint canary yellow that gives it a pleasant, charming sense of nostalgia. There's snow on the letters, a wreath around the word "ALE," and it just makes you think of times gone by. There's even a simple crest cast directly into the bottle itself. As far as packaging goes, I give them a solid 10 points.

The first thing I noticed when I popped the top (or should I say, "unwrapped the bottle top"?) was a strong aroma. I must admit, I'm having a hard time placing it because the hops are a bit overpowering, plus there is a strong under-scent of some type of fruit (the guy at this blog said he thought it was raisins, but I'm not so sure). Whatever it is, it is definitely strong.

When poured, the color is wonderful, dark brown with copper undercurrents: It's beautiful to look at. The head is rather weak, though. I hardly got any at all when I poured it (even an aggressive pour doesn't do the job). The head quickly settled to a thin film that did leave a generous lace along the sides of the glass.

This beer has 7.4% ABV, and that alcohol makes itself known from the first sip. It just hits the mouth and says, "Ho, ho, ho, here I come." Then it's the hops I notice -- they're too strong for my liking. As with most other strong ABV beers and ales, they just tend to overdo the hops when they raise the alcohol.

Christmas Ale
The chill of a Colorado high-country winter calls for a beer with extra flavor and warming characteristics. Here it is. Breck Brew's Christmas Ale. At over 7% alcohol, with a sturdy texture and rich flavors of caramel and chocolate, our holiday seasonal is the fermented equivalent of a good fire.

The ultimate winter warmer.

From their Website.

Alcohol content: 7.4%

The other flavors are present; I get a nice hint of caramel and of dark chocolate (I got the chocolate on my own, and the fact that it's dark chocolate from their Website). But mostly, it's those hops and the malt I taste. Maybe a hint more spice would make it more to my liking... I'm not sure.

As far as Winter beers go, this is a pretty good one. The alcohol will make it a nice way to take off the chill of the night... as long as its not too cold. All in all, I give it a respectable 6.5 out of 10.

PS: As I popped the top on the second bottle tonight, I decided to go for a SUPER aggressive pour: I just dumped it right into the bottom of the glass. I was surprised that I did, at last, get a respectable head on it (no less than 5 inches!). It receded rapidly, though, as I expected, and tasted a little flat. Of course, that's entirely my fault for pouring it like that, but I just wanted to see what kind of head I would get.

Draft Magazine has a short review online, if you're interested:

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