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Monday, December 20, 2010

December Beer Review: Winter Seasonals

Magic Hat's Howl Black-as-Night Winter Lager is a new favorite. It's definitely not your ordinary dark beer. Howl is extremely dark with a nice, roasty coffee aroma. When help up to the light, it appears to be a deep red, almost Framboise-colored. The taste is rich and bold with a roasted nutty flavor and a hint of coffee. As expected with most dark brews, Howl has a nice bitter finish that dissipates quickly. It's very well carbonated and much less heavy on the stomach than the average dark beer, making it the most refreshing dark beer I've had the pleasure of drinking. 4.6%ABV.
Rating: A+

O'Fallon's Cherry Chocolate Beer is a delicious dark wheat brew. In a glass, it's a dark, cloudy amber. As the name implies, it smells and tastes just like a chocolate covered cherry. Of course, it's sweet but not too sweet and still manages to taste like a beer. 5.7%ABV.
Rating: A+

Sam Adams' White Ale is the most perplexing beer I've had thus far. The aroma is almost imperceptible with just the slightest hint of citrus. It's a very pale amber and, as with any unfiltered wheat brew, it's hazy. However, unlike the majority of unfiltered wheat beers, this haze doesn't seem to settle at the bottom. White Ale is crisp and refreshing. Ingredients like coriander, hibiscus and Grains of Paradise give in an unrivaled complexity. It has a similar taste and mouthfeel as a hard cider, but with distinct citrus notes. White Ale pairs quite well with very spicy food and can successfully put out the burn of Bonefish Grill's Bang Bang Shrimp. 5.3%ABV.
Rating: A-

Abita's 2010 Christmas Ale is an American style brown ale. It's a dark copper color with a strong aroma of hops. It tastes strongly of hops as well with a hint of caramel and a lingering bitterness. With brews like Purple Haze and Turbodog, I expected something special. This year's Christmas Ale is just average. 5.5% ABV.
Rating: C

Sierra Nevada's Celebration Fresh Hop Ale is an epic fail, even more so than Blue Moon's Harvest Pumpkin Ale. It pours a clear amber and smells strongly of grapefruit, as many IPAs do. The flavor of grapefruit hits first, followed by a strong piny flavor and aftertaste. I imagine that Pine-Sol has a similar taste. After sharing sips with a few friends, we agreed on its severe lack of drinkability and poured it down the sink. I have been unable to give away the five that remain. 6.8%ABV.
Rating: F