We are now twelve beers into our Advent calendar. The second week of Advent beers hit upon some classics and some new brands (at least to Kansas City).
Advent Beers, Week 2
Samuel Smith Winter Warmer
Sam Smith’s Winter Warmer is classic British winter beer. Like the best pub ales, this is a fabric of interwoven flavors from hops and malt. Leather and toffee. Caramel and tobacco. Toast and bread crusts. Mmm. There’s a spicy, herbal bitterness at the end of each drink. Winter Warmer is for milder winters at 6% ABV, but it might carry you thru the night with its drinkability and balance.
|Samuel Smith||Winter Warmer||6% (vol.)|
Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale
Ah, Celebration. It has always been a part of my family’s Christmas celebration. Back in the days when the only craft beer drinkers we my younger brother and one older brother, we feasted on Celebration, Nutcracker and a fancy Belgian bottle of some Nöel or another. Now we get to share a wider assortment of traditional and brand new beers with nephews, the old man, and new converts.
Celebration, as one would expect from Sierra Nevada, is hop forward with classic American hops. Fresh pine trees and grapefruit aroma followed by some sweeter caramel malt, finally finishing with a pleasant bitterness. Each drink invites the next in a near-perfect showcase of an American IPA with a caramel malt middle.
|Sierra Nevaada Brewing||IPA||6.8% (vol.)||65|
Golden Road Back Home
The festive can reads “Gingerbread Stout”. Half of that is right. Ginger and cinnamon are apparent in the nose. The spiced assert themselves with each sip. Crowds of ginger, cinnamon and cardamom trample any aspects of the stout foundation. The beer is black. I think I might have tasted a faint hint of chocolate. The rest is an army of spices.
|Golden Road Brewing||Gingerbread stout||8.5% (vol.)|
Yeah, I should have celebrated St Nicholas day with a Samichlaus. But the 14% fat man was a little too girthy for a Wednesday night. Brewed once a year, on St Nicholas day in Austria, Samichlaus is a Christmas monster (not to be confused with Krampus). Subtle like a fruitcake, this doppelbock (viererbock?) is an intense experience of raisins, rum, and wet grain. Sweet and oh so boozy. Beneath the booze and dried fruit lie a subdued layer of caramel and chocolate. Samichlaus is a delightful beer that will warm you any time. But it’s absolutely perfect for Advent.
|Brauerei Schloss||Doppelbock||14% (vol.)|
Stone Enjoy by 12/25/17
My plan upon picking up this ugly-sweater-wearing can of Stone imperial IPA was to hold it until Christmas eve, therefore going as long as allowed. That plan was changed, as I needed the antithesis to the malt-bomb of Samichlaus scrubbed from my palate.
This Enjoy By, like its siblings, explodes with hop aroma. Oranges, kiwi, pine and grapefruit on the nose. Pineapples and citrus in every drink. There’s very little in the way of malt flavor, only a supremely bright citrus flavor rolling into a substantial punch of bitterness, which to its credit does not linger as long or as roughly as I expected based on other beers from Stone. The Christmas cheer if 9.5% ABV is completely masked under the bushels of hops. Enjoy!
|Stone Brewing||Imperial IPA||9.5% (vol.)||90|
Free State Frost Flower
A winter pils is an interesting choice. The common expectation for winter beers, as you’ve witnessed so far in this series, are big, boozy, intense beers. Frost Flower is not. This lager is certainly hop-forward with classic German spicy and floral hop aromas and flavors resting on a soft, bready malt bed. Frost Flower has the pungent bite of noble bitterness I expect from a well-made pils. Which it is.
|Free State Brewing||German-style pils||6.6% (vol.)||40|
Two Down, Two to Go
Two purple candles are lit. We’ve moved on to pink! If you missed Week 1, check it out now.