Saturday, December 22, 2007

A Couple of Winter Ales

I've had some bad luck with the winter beers this year. The first one to kick it off was Deschutes Jubelale which was a huge letdown from last year. Then the season was redeemed by Jolly Pumpkin's Noel de Calabaza. Oh yeah, Sierra Nevada Celebration is a great beer every year, but we already knew that.

But now I've been cold with the last 3 tries. It started the other night when I went for a couple pints at Lucky Baldwin's. They had just finished their Christmas beer festival but they still had some on tap, so I ordered an Anchor Christmas Ale hoping it'd be much better than the 2006 vintage I had last year. Well it wasn't. Most people flip out over this beer, but I just can't grasp it. It's got a huge spicy thing going on, maybe it was cloves, but there was more to it, a much more herbal thing. I just didn't like the taste, plain and simple.

The next attempt was when I ordered Gordon Biersch's Winter Bock while at a work party. This actually wasn't horrible, it just wasn't something very satisfying. It's supposedly a dopplebock, of which I've only maybe 3 different ones in my life, but it wasn't anything like those others, and it surely wasn't any better in its own way. This beer was a big malt soup with a pretty potent alcohol presence thrown in. That's all I can really remember. Still had a good time at Gordon Biersch though!

Finally I had a bottle of Alaskan Winter Ale last night. Another one who wasn't bad by any means, just a little different and not my exact idea of a winter ale. It had a medium malt body but the main attraction was the spruce tip spicing. Let me say that was very interesting! I don't exactly know if/when I've ever had spruce before but it gave the beer a berry taste... like blueberries maybe, but not overpowering. Anyway, I was able to drink that beer pretty easily but I wouldn't have more just because that flavor started to become a bit old by the end.

Well I gotta say I love trying new beers, and I know I'll never like every beer, but this winter I've been disappointed with my selection. Last year I had pretty good luck with Deschutes Jubelale and Samuel Smith's Winter Welcome Ale. To me, those two brews epitomized "winter ale."

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