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 make some disgustingly obscene noises 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
*8.0 out of 10.*
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, 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.
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.
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.
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. 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.