So then, Christmas time upon us, the kids have their Lego Star Wars calendars and I could sense the missus could see the sadness on my face, knowing that I was too old for one. But do not fear, the good old girl surprised me on the 1st December with her version of christmas heaven. A Beers Xmas advent Calendar. That’s right, A calendar of 24 beers up until christmas day.
Now you may be thinking to yourself, what a perfect wife, to allow and even encourage the consumption of at LEAST 1 beer per day for the next three weeks which also includes christmas parties and many a get together down the pub with my mates. But no, I see what she’s done, she realises i’m getting older, she understands that men get more handsome as they age, becoming even more attractive and handsome to wandering eyes. Therefore she see’s that even the lanky piece of piping writing this blog could one day soon, become Tom Cruise, she needs to do something about it! The answer, BEER; and shit loads of it.
But I can’t do this alone, so I thought I would invite you into the action by giving a little countdown to xmas with my 24 days of Beer Christmas calendar countdown of christmas beers.
There are two reviews here as I have started a bit late and was a little hung over on the day of the first beer. So we will play catchup for now, first two here, 2nd two tonight and then we are up to date. But make sure to visit every day until the 24th for a new update on the post.
bellhaven: twisted thistle
Day 11, Not technically a christmas beer but its not far off some of the flavour profiles I have tasted. This is a staple ale in Stockholm for me. If there is nothing on the menu of beer that I fancy then I usually turn to this and at 5.6% thats saying something. But the reason being is that it’s just an easy beer to drink with a great flavour. Again from Scotland (not sure why the wife has Scotland on the brain right now) it’s deep in flavour, and fruity and malty. And you can taste the alcohol.
It’s not too bitter though and not too hoppy either. It reminds me more of a normal ale than an IPA as I would expect more bitterness and aftertaste than what I actually get. It’s super floral as well, making it a beer that could well be enjoyed in the summer at a colder temp or in the winter server at room temp.
Another good Scottish ale. Standard
TASTE: floral, malty
COLOUR: DARK BROWN
FIZZ: SMOOTHLY BUBBLED
GREAT WITH: summer or winter.
PRICE: NOT KNOWN
traquair: house ale
Day 10, Right then, down to some serious, proper, make ya balls curl Scottish ale. Traquair House Ale comes in at 7.2%. Now obviously there are a lot stronger but for me this is way above my drinking grade. This is a beer that I would probably never go out and buy, not even at christmas so I am super happy that Missus Santa got me this one.
It’s pretty much what you would expect from a Scottish ale, it’s dark, malty, fruity, woody but all really well balanced. You can taste so many things going on in this beer. I can even, with my limited nose taste some kind of scotch or sherry in there and the whiff that comes from it on taking a gulp is just great. Enough to get you a little dizzy in itself. It has a nice fluffy bubble head that again you would expect and it’s super smooth to drink. It’s a curl up by the fire, under a blanket listening to some Michael Bublé whilst the other half files down your toenails kind of beer.
Deep, malty, strong Scottish ale, just what the drunk Scottish doctor ordered.
TASTE: MALTY, deep, scotch, oaky
COLOUR: DARK dark BROWN
FIZZ: smoothly bubbled
GREAT WITH: guiness.
PRICE: not known
slottskällan bryggeri: WINTER eko
Day 9, And the missus has thrown me a curve ball here. A dark winter lager. Now the basic difference between a lager and an ale is all to do with the yeast. But I wont get into that now. We all have ideas of lagers, light in colour, fizzy, not very complex flavours and usually drank at a lot colder temperatures than ales. Which to be honest you could say about some IPA’s. This however is a dark lager and so uses malts and hops usually found in ales. So when it came to tasting it I was a little confused as to why anyone would really want to make a dark lager.
The whole experience in very similar to some of the ipa’s I have tasted in this post. From the taste to the fizz. Not to say it’s a bad lager though. It’s pretty tasty, nice depth of flavour and you certainly get the malty roasted notes. But, knowing this now I would probably not buy this beer. I don’t really see the point of it. If you want a lager, go buy a decent lager, if you want a dark lager, then go buy yourself a decent dark IPA as you will get a lot more satisfaction from it.
Nice lager, but a little bit pointless in my view. Even if it is EKO.
COLOUR: dark BROWN
FIZZ: very FIZZY
GREAT WITH: anything a good dark ipa goes with.
ST ERIKS: WINTER SESSION IPA
Day 8, If there is a beer that has everything I want at christmas then this is it. A session, winter, ale. Perfect. What more can a lover of session ales want. This is a lovely beer that I could quite easily drink if it were the only beer on offer at the table with the dinner. It’s got those traditional hoppy malty wintery ale characteristics but there is also this citrus, zingyness to it which quite surprising but which I rather like. It’s different and unexpected which I think is what one should be after when tasting a new beer.
It’s a lovely reddish brown colour and has a great fluffy head that you can really get your moustache stuck into. There is not really much more to say really. At 4.1% it hits the proper session ale mark and is purely an interesting fun beer to drink. Give it a go.
This is a great little fun beer that goes pretty well with everything really but with that citrus zing to it it’s perfect alongside a mince pie..
TASTE: SWEET, HOPPY, citrus
COLOUR: reddish brown
FIZZ: quite FIZZy but nice fluffy head
GREAT with: mince pies.
MOHAWK: SEASONAL SPICED OLD ALE
Day 7, And another new beer. I havn’t tasted anything from Mohawk Brewery so was a little excited to get into this one. the words Old Spiced ale can sometimes be a warning, connotations of a dark, sticky, sweet beer come to mind. I have had a few in my time, also made one myself and I have never really been a fan of them. But this beer however was slightly different.
If I had my eyes closed then I wouldn’t have taken it for a dark beer. it certainly doesnt have those strong malty, caramel smells of some dark winter ales. It smells clean and hoppy. The taste however does have those distinct familiar flavours, but only light hints of them, You get a nice muscovardo sweet sugary taste yet it doesnt over take the hopps and bitterness. Everything seems pretty balanced keeping it very fresh. I drank this pretty cold but I can imagine at room temperature would enhance those warm flavours making it really nice on a christmas evening.
It’s not a cheap beer by any means but you dont have to drink this one all the time, Treat yourself.
If you don’t like heavy dark ales but want to try something a little lighter then grab one of these. .
TASTE: SWEET, hoppy
COLOUR: dark BROWN
FIZZ: minimal fizz
GREAT FOR: ipa drinkers wanting a dark beer.
Day 6, So then, this morning I unwrapped by beer package and I was super happy to see a Lagunitas standing in front of me. This beer is simply superb. If you could picture your perfect IPA in terms of colour, flavour, bitterness, sweetness then this would be it. Apparently this beer is made with 43 different hops and 65 different malts so if that be true then you can be sure that they have spent a lot of time perfecting the recipe. I am not relaly sure how many of these ingredients you could pinpoint on tasting but they seem to have found a superb balance between them all.
It comes in at 6.2% so it’s not a beer that you would think of drinking all night long, but it just aint true. I could quite happily sit for a few hours and sink a few of these on a friday night. Its in fact a pretty light ale for it’s claims. Brilliant all round.
Just brilliant. You like your IPAs? Then taste from one of the masters.
COUNTRY: CHICAGO, USA
TASTE: sweet, fresh, and light
COLOUR: lush light brown
FIZZ: Pretty fizzy
GREAT FOR: if you are feeling like treating yourself.
DUGGES BREWERY: ALL THE WAY
Day 5, and I think it’s starting to hit me. I had my first night out in December and couldn’t face drinking a beer when I got home at 1 in the morning, somewhat bloated and a little worse for ware. But lucking it was a beer that I had reviewed before so i’ll simply pass you over to that review, right here, whilst I nurse a headache.
Good simple Session IPA, tastes like it did last time.
TASTE: nice initial hit of hops but then fades away quickly
FIZZ: PRETTY fizzy
GREAT FOR: People after a simple session ale for when they get home after a night out.
PRICE: 22.20 sek
BERNARD BREWERY: BOHEMIAN WINTER ALE
Day 4, December 4th, it’s a Friday night and the missus has brought the first of the big guns. An 8.2% banger from the people at Bernard Brewery in Czechoslovakia. My first thought was, 8.2%, its going to be dark, it’s going to be sweet, hearty and malty. On opening proved me wrong. The beer actually pours really clean and clear, something similar to a nice golden pale ale. The smell is what gives this beer away as to it’s kind. It’s very strong, like you would expect a Czech beer of this ABV. The initial taste is somewhat familiar also,
There is a strong malty flavour, deep caramel and very fruity, Which is very pleasant indeed. It’s bottle conditioned as well which in simple terms means there is a little yeast at the bottom of the bottle, in more complex terms it means that the bubbles are made in the bottle by the stuff inside it, rather than the bubbles being forced into it. This means, if you don’t get too desperate, that you could quite easily age this beer and enjoy it in a year or so’s time.
I can only imagine this beer would get better, straight out of the bottle it’s a fantastic winter ale, an expected winter ale that you can enjoy any time of the day.
Great winter ale for those of you not really into winter ales or just starting out on them.
TASTE: very malty, sweet and toffee like
COLOUR: GOLDEN like gold
FIZZ: pretty smooth tingle on your tongue
GREAT for: people starting out on their winter ale adventures.
PRICE: not known
DUGGES ale & porter bryggeri: electric nurse
3rd December, I am starting to like this, it means I will always, at least for the next couple of weeks have a beer in the fridge waiting for me when I get back form work. Today I got a lovely little American Pale Ale in my calendar. I have had a beer by this brewery before, and it wasn’t actually a bad beer at all considering the timings. So to be honest I didn’t really know what to expect.
You will be happy to know that I was pleasantly surprised, It’s a good allround, simple pale ale. It’s got a good whiff of hops coming from it, it’s a lovely misty yellowy colour and has a really creamy fluffy head that pretty much stays with you for the full bottle. It’s super fresh and light as well so if you are looking for something to occupy you on a dark night then this probably isn’t it.
There isn’t much else to say about this beer really, it is what it is, it’s not great but it is by no means a bad beer. I would happily plop this into my beer basket on a weekday.
Simple little beer that doesn’t try to be something it isn’t.
TASTE: zingy and lightly hpopped
COLOUR: golden on the side of yellow fog
FIZZ: TYPICAL pale ALE LEVEL
GREAT IF: for a quick downer after work
PRICE: around 22 sek
BREWDOG: SANTA PAWS
Day two, still standing and feeling fine. Woke up this morning to see number two standing on the kitchen surface wrapped lovingly in patterned tissue paper. What can it be… brilliant, Santa Paws by BrewDog, the wife has brought out some early big guns (beer speaking of course). Now BrewDog to me are one of those breweries that could have easily fallen into the money trap, producing bog standard beers with a good name behind them, but they ain’t. These guys know what they are doing and I enjoy a lot of their beers on frequent occasions. So I was very happy to see one of their christmas beers making an appearance this early on.
This certainly isn’t a beer i’ll be trying to replicate too soon, it contains no less than 8 different malts, a few of those being roasted and smoked, which gives it a real depth of flavour. The Stout and Brown Ale drinkers among you will recognise the flavours going on in this beer, big hits of coffee and a nice buttery malt loaf bitterness.
To me all the signs of this beer are pretty misleading to be honest. The head disappears pretty quickly, it’s a dark brown mahogany looking beer and if you take a big whiff of it you get quite a strong hit of whisky, which personally is a sign that this beer is going to be hard to drink, strong, bitter and I just hate whisky, but… it’s smooth, light, toasty and very easy to drink and only comes in at 4.5%, so lies well within my realm of session ales.
The boys at BrewBog continue to deliver with their complex experimental beers. If you asked me ‘if I had to sit down with a Scot at Christmas who would it be’, then i’d be making a space around the table for Santa Paws.
TASTE: SCOTCH, MALTY, COFFEE
COLOUR: POLISHED MAHOGONY
FIZZ: LOW TYPICAL ENGLISH ALE LEVEL
GREAT IF: YOU HAD TO INVITE A SCOT ROUND FOR DINNER
Gotlands bryggeri: Sleepy bulldog winter ale
Right then, first up on this personal sacrifice a terrific winter ale from the fellows at Gotlands Bryggeri. I have had a few beers from this brewery, the Wisby Pils, is pretty good, the Sleepy Bulldog Supper Pale Ale is superb so I was expecting something pretty special with this one. And they didn’t let me down. Being a winter ale you know it’s gonna warm ya cockles on a cold crappy Swedish evening. It’s a dark dark red beer, probably the result of some lovely roasted hops and locks of Swedish maidens and smells sweet and fruity, if you are familiar with Muscovado sugar then you know exactly the smell I am referring to. The head is slightly off white and reminds me of the funny looking Brown Ales my uncle used to drink down the Engine and Tender many a year ago.
Now I ain’t a huge fan of strong beers, (when I say strong I mean anything over 6% and that’s even at a push), but I allow myself to indulge a little in the winter as I know the sugary smoothness of many winter ales counter balances that strong alcoholic aftertaste. This winter ale weighs in at 6.6% but believe me, those of you who prefer the session ales are gonna have no problems with this. It’s a very smooth easy to drink beer, it has a really mild bitter taste and isn’t too hopped.
A simple brilliant winter ale, perfect for an early evening drink before you start on the big hitters. But for me, i’ll be enjoying one of these on Christmas day along side a slice of christmas cake.