Category: 2013 Holiday Beers

Review: Anchor Brewing Co. | Anchor Christmas Ale (‘Our Special Ale’), 2013 Vintage

photo credit: ohbeautifulbeer.com

photo credit: ohbeautifulbeer.com

So there I was on another Saturday night—gallivanting about, loudly guffawing with leisurely shrillness. I sprawled out hazily with unabashed ambivalence, bouncing from conversation to conversation. There was food, there was drink. Our gracious host broke out an enormous bottle. I examined the specimen. The cap was popped. With constipated fervor, I jutted my glass forth for a pour. I ham-handedly pressed the glass to my blushing cheeks and dumped the beverage down my throat. I choked it down tenderly. I thought with a shred of legerdemain that the brew was reminiscent of an old-fashioned or perhaps a perhaps a Goslings paired with some generic cola—but I seemed to screech, “OMG it tastes like coke,”

like a teenybopper.

I slammed the glass down and dissociated myself from my aforementioned statement, as if the rabble muttered it amongst the din of the merry and the drunk. I slid away towards the foyer and approached my squeeze. I puffed out my chest and gasped out a few awkward lines as my eyes darted around nervously. I deflated into my beer. My legs wobbled and dissolved into the hardwood floors.

So now, I am gurgling down the fluid, breathing deep. Lemon, clove, grapefruit, and almond extract flood my mind. I babbled with contrived confidence. Witless, foreign wavelengths reverberated from the corners of my mouth. My hand grasped the banister with vigor, as in an attempt to pull the breaks on this derailing train. I raised the glass again to my mouth. Its ruby tinge glistened; the bubbles popped in my mouth, bringing new life. I stumbled and sat down next to her. My hand steadied upon the armrest I sat upon. Rigor mortis set upon my left arm with a gross, puritanical sentiment. I couldn’t dislodge myself from my position. I awkwardly looked up at her with an air of mercy. Her corpulent, sumptuous eyes left welts upon my psyche. Languidly, I drank away my nerves. There was a subtle bitterness amongst the near-cloying sweetness that seemed to linger on my tongue like bitter chocolate and caramel. It was reminiscent of her disturbingly sunny disposition. I was comforted. She engorged herself on hors d’oeurves and lamented her vices. I adored her. I, in my mind, would have caressed her every inch. She imagined miles, multitudes. I saw her a limited resource. She was my oasis.

As the glass rested in my hand, notes of dark cherry, chocolate and blood orange rose from the glass. There really was a strange pungency that was a bit reminiscent of cool summer’s stroll home as the beer began to warm. It was pleasant really. I could easily drink two or three more glasses of these, I thought. With that, I drifted into the night. If there are two things that I can say about this beer , the first would be that it’s quite complex; and two,

it didn’t get me laid that night.

*8.5 out of 10*

Advertisements

Review: Le Trou du Diable | La Grivoise de Noël

 

Foto Kred: craftbeercellar.com

Foto Kred: craftbeercellar.com

                Ah, January Thaw, what a cruel temptress thou art. The temperatures dip and dive and skyrocket like a rollercoaster—or a junkie. I’ve been busy making observations on the state of the world every day on the drive home from work. For once, I catch a break from the people who bitch about the cold (as if winter was known for vitamin D and rhododendrons!). I go to the gym, work the legs, the chest, the arms, the legs, the chest, the arms. I get home. I walk inside and say some disgustingly obscene comments in a high-pitched voice to the cat.  Jazz blasts forth from the speakers and I shout some more slurs with cathartic glee. I start to dance. I lose my shirt, my shorts, and pay homage both to Tom Cruise in Risky Business and to my preschool years.

Meat and potatoes, meat and potatoes.

It really is that time of the year.

Isn’t it?

I am surrounded by the sweet sounds of shattering resolutions—stillbirths (or abortions, really), hearty foods, and strong drink.

Winter is here, I finally admit to myself a month late. I collapse upon the kitchen table in my skivvies, seeking out the bottle opener, only to find it poking into my side as I sift through the bills waiting to be paid, newspapers now collecting dust as demoted ephemera.  My weapon in hand, I approach the fridge and pull out my conquest.

                To my delight, I was able to find a bottle of one of Le Trou du Diable’s many fantastic beers. Being a teeny-tiny little brewery in Shawinigan, Quebec, it’s rare to find stateside often. That being said, if you have a chance, pick up an offering when the opportunity presents itself.

Anyway—

                La Grivoise de Noel loosely translates to “ribald Christmas.” In nothing but underpants, I found this masturbatory salute to be indulgently appropriate for the occasion. And how appropriate the beer! Like the Thaw, this beer is a tribute to pure deceit from its overtly invigorating nature—not something typically expected from a winter beer—to its alcohol by volume. Approaching 8% ABV, you do not get the alcohol at all.

                The worst part about a lying tramp isn’t her lies, but her omission of the truth.

                La Grivoise doesn’t come out and say it, but it really is a Belgian strong ale. It doesn’t take much to tease a confession out of it, really. Sure, it will tell you it’s a “holiday ale” brewed with “honey” and “spices,” but it doesn’t tell you how it got those scars or why it ducks behind cars while walking down the street at the first sound of a siren, or why it never returns your fucking calls.

                You start to become a little suspicious shortly after the pour. It’s a bright garnet color in the glass with an off-white head and some very strong, very attractive carbonation. Let’s call her “bubbly,” as if she’d put that in her online dating profile to lure in poor, unsuspecting good guys just looking for love.

                God bless America.

                There’s a strange coppery stench to the beer, or perhaps iron. It quickly fades as it comes to room temperature and what you’re left with is really no real hops to speak of, toasted malt, nutmeg, orange blossom, and banana. There, that’s the ticket. That’s all you really need to know right away. It is definitely a Belgian.

Then comes the brown sugar taste— well, maybe burnt sugar with plum and overripe banana finishing off. Maybe there’s some spice there. I think this may be some gross confabulation, but I kind of get some cardamom and clove in there. Of course, the nutmeg pushes through in the end.

There’s a satisfying stickiness to the beer.  It establishes a fine middle ground between thick and thin on the tongue. A delightful carbonation prickles the tongue just slightly.

Nevertheless, that doesn’t forgive her for maxing out your credit cards.

Bitch.

*8.0 out of 10.*

Review: Mikkeller | Hoppy Lovin’ Christmas

Hoppy-Lovin-Christmas-Front-Final

phot cred: Beerpulse.com

Take

me to the horse races, I said.

Let 
me cavort with the bourgeois, I said.
You
bet your life’s savings on a thoroughbred named “Saskatchewan Bull Dingus Mk
XXII: Dream Sequence.”
 
What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other
name would smell as sweet.
 
I,
beside myself, found my pockets out-turned and telling.
These
are unfortunate circumstances.
I
wound up in the streets.
It
was cold.
I
was bared to the world.
The
frigid air left my joints and appendages lay ramshackle, cracked and suppressed
by the elements.
Everything
was fine. I had my health, otherwise.
I
took the role of vagabond and forsook knowledge of the left hand from the
right.
The
darkness was my friend.
I
crept into the numbness of solace. 
The
solace of numbness.  
The
solness of numblace. 
The
numace of solmbness. 
The
offstace of numsolasticness. 
Oblastician
dastician numalsol. 
Ommss
sosd tosa numosola oosa colacolastion.
 
I
narrowed myself towards oblivion and entered my shoebox.
I
am a graceful donut.
 
 
Mikkel Borg Bjergsø and Kristian
  Klarup Keller can shut the fuck up for two hot seconds.
 
You want to make an offbeat
  experimental IPA.
Do it on your dime, not mine.
 
Let me clear my throat.
 
Beer gypsies Mikkeller have donned
  their extravagant Santa hats and have flounced about with a number of
  strange, wonky beers for the holiday season.
 
Hoppy Lovin’ Christmas is one of
  them.
 
It’s an IPA (a borderline double
  at 7.8 percent ABV) brewed with ginger and pine needles. Naturally, my
  loins tensed with the thought of such a brew. Surely, this is a beer that
  would embrace the rich intensity and spice that comes part and parcel with
  the ginger root and sport proudly the bold elegance of pine far beyond the
  casual recesses of its otherwise marked hop prowess.
 
Wait, no? It’s really just a
  standard IPA? I’m just getting hops here. I’m getting hops and sour. You’ve
  got to be kidding me. 
 
My palms got sweaty.
 
No, that can’t be right. I spent
  $14 whole dollars on a bottle of this. 
 
I’m ruined. I simply cannot
  believe I fell for this crap. Then again, this isn’t the first time I’ve been
  screwed by two Great Danes (…too far?).
 
 
But wait; there are subtle nuances to this beer.
 
No,
no, I see it. There, at the end of the tunnel, there is a light.
 
The
pitter-patter of horse hooves gallivant forward.
The
succor of fortune floods my being and I am rejuvenated.
 
I
realized the warmth that tickled my throat was in fact the ginger. As the brew
warmed to the air, I breathed deep in the glass. I got the pine. I got everything.
There was lemon, there was apricot. 
 
Oh,
I was pissed. 
 
Maybe
I’m just bitter. Maybe I am just so jealous of Mikkeller that I pretended I
couldn’t taste the ginger and pine that I so expected when picking up this
beer. Maybe I wished I was as cool as these new gods.
 
The
mouthfeel was smooth, yet brisk. The aroma was brilliant. There was tropical
fruit and a lingering tartness akin to sourdough. A brilliant effervescence
gave the ale character. 
 
Maybe
I was jealous. Maybe I went headlong into drinking this beer that I expected
terrific faults only to find quiet successes.
 
Maybe
they delivered what they promised. Nevertheless, don’t expect a robustness that
I did. You’ll just get all pissy and end up bitching about the government. Your
moodiness will overcome you and thoughts of romance, ambition, civil obligation
and certain bodily functions will seem blasé. 
 
Or,
maybe I just drank the whole bottle.
 
…Did
I mention it’s almost a double IPA?
 
Oops.

*8.1 out of 10*
 
 
 
 
 

Review: Sierra Nevada Brewing Company | Celebration, 2013 Edition

Photo cred: The Full Pint, thefullpint.com

Photo cred: The Full Pint, thefullpint.com

      Laziness is something that comes in myriad forms. Some blame fear, others stubborn complacency for their vices. Rob Ford blames some vices for other vices. Laziness for him served as reminder that sometimes, lying can help save a career.

            Therefore, I will just go ahead and lie that I’ve been too busy to sit down, drink a beer, and write about it.

            Autumn is here. It’s a brilliant season, really. Growing up New England has helped to make it a very nostalgic one. Apple picking, leaf peeping, filming suspect activities tired, bloody, and shirtless in the woods while screaming with reckless abandon, and trick-or-treating just make me sigh with childlike naiveté. With stars in my eyes, tears streaming down my face, bowels constipated with joy, I was so ready to write a bunch of quality, enthusiastic reviews about all the lovely pumpkin beers that came out this year, but ended up winding up fruitless. Why?

            Well, I had a few, was underwhelmed, and decided I was too damn lazy to tell anyone about it. 2013’s pumpkin beers are nothing you hit and go run tell your homies about. Sorry. Pumking and Punkin’ were great, but there was ton of other shit—beer too average to praise and too good to ridicule—that just simply was better off leaving as an afterthought.

            Here, however, comes my redemption—holiday beers. Thank God Almighty; we have November and December at last! Whatever you choose to celebrate—Christmas, some mutant Thanksgiving-Chanukah hybrid, Kwanzaa, Festivus, Wednesday— there is a beer out there that yearns for your wet mouth. By God/God/Black God/Festivus Pole/Nobody, there is an embarrassment.

            The first beer of this holiday series is anything but an embarrassment. This beer is Sierra Nevada’s 2013 Celebration Ale.

 

            It’s

            Stupid

            Fucking

            Good.

 

There we go, end of review. Just go away and let me lust after this marvelous offering and make pitiful supplications to Ken Grossman. Just go, please, I beg of you.  If you have any common decency, you’ll let me sit here, naked and ashamed (not really), sobbing uncontrollably (I swear I am not), writhing in my inadequacy (actually, I’m sitting rather comfortably in bed…), nearly incontinent (hey, easy), and let me drink my beer in private. Oh, you won’t (all two of you out there)? Ok, well, I’ll tell you how much of a godsend this beer is.

            In TECHNICOLOR!

            Well, not Technicolor, but in writing—I’ll tell you in writing.

            First, Sierra Nevada goes out of its way to call the beer a “fresh hop ale.” Now, what is that? Is it a dry-hopped IPA? It’s a wet-hopped IPA? Does it have a recording contract with Interscope Records? No. According to their very own website, Sierra Nevada marks the delineation:

 

“Wet Hops are un-dried hops, picked and shipped from the growing fields within 24 hours. Fresh Hops are the freshest dried hops to come from the fields, typically within seven days of harvest.”

 

There you have it, straight from the brewers’ mouth. Anyway, straight from my nose, here’s the review. The citrus and pine notes on the nose are ridiculously splendid. There are even slight (very, very slight) mint notes. I’m not sure where they are coming from. I’m guessing they’re just a happy mistake. Up front, you get bright, juicy, blood orange and sugar-laden grapefruit on the tongue. At that very moment there is chocolate as well? No, “you’re a hack,” you may say, but I say, “Nay,” I ain’t no hack, you ninny—there are indeed chocolate notes on this beer, especially middle and back of the tongue, like baker’s chocolate. It’s a masterful combination of hop and malt just bursting on the palate. Drinking this beer is like really good sex; it’s pure ecstasy, pomp, and circumstance until it’s over. Then’s it’s followed by moral quandaries, questions of adequacy, your role in the human race, purpose, et cetera… well, it’s all the really nice, pre-coital parts.

 

            Ahem.

 

            Sierra Nevada’s Celebration Ale is like taking a stroll down the snow-covered cobble-stoned boulevard with that special someone, hand-in-hand, staring up and the globular, blinking lights dotting the trees, ignoring the smell of the racist homeless men making catcalls at your girlfriend. You don’t care though, you just got a promotion, and you switched your cable package to the one that includes HBO and Showtime and Cinemax. You got a cool head on your shoulders. You bought a new jacket from the Banana Republic and you’re looking good. You smell good, even. You switched to that botanical shit. You know, the one that rich people buy. Trader Joe’s? Fuck no—Wegmans. Go to Hell.

            Did I mention the aftertaste? It’s like fucking strawberries. It’s brilliant. It’s a stupendous beer. It’s super well-rounded in the 60s IBU range. Cascade, Centennial, and Chinook populate the hop bill on this one, and you certainly get that, especially as the beer warms up. The elegant floral nature of the Centennial  comes forth triumphantly.

            And the mouthfeel? Come on; it’s velvet, baby.

 

            Just buy the fucking beer.

 

 

 *9.7 out of 10*

Run tell dat, homeboy.