Does it look like it's getting any warmer out there? Does spring appear to be just around the corner? No! This is a picture taken about three weeks ago from outside my drinking window, three weeks ago of course being technically autumn:
L-R: Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
As usual, a wonderful bottle design from the DDC artists. Haunting winter imagery, perfect for this brew. Poured into a nonic glass. Rich amber-chestnut, with a very thin head that quickly recedes into a little ring. Looks thick and rich, like a slug of good malty scotch. About right for the style.
Nose is rich caramel, molasses, sherry, wood, cherry, good whiff of booze as well. This should be great!
A highly flavorful and enjoyable barleywine. Rich notes of caramel, brandy, grape, cherry, oak, toffee and cream. A nutty character to it as well, maybe cashew or almond. Sweet and rich, but that's what I'm always hoping for. Barleywines are fast becoming my go-to winter brew, and this one delivers big time. Alcohol is certainly present, but in a delightfully warming fashion. I may still be reeling from a snow-shovelling stupor, but this brew is really hitting the spot. The right brew at the right time, that's what I say!
Thick and chewy, slick, but with a delightfully higher-than-average carbonation level. This one is going down well.
Another winner from Dieu du Ciel - great on a cold, snowy first night. I may be biased towards barleywines, but if I likes it, I scores it high. And this one I likes. A few of these kicking around the house will certainly help get me through the cold, cold season ahead.
Next up is a brew that isn't as perfectly timed for today, but still fits the bill as a winter brew.
Brewery: Bierbrouwerij Sint Christoffel (Roermond, Netherlands)
I've had a few of this brewers' wares before in these stubby little hinged-top bottles, and so far I've enjoyed them. Their "Nobel" hopped pilsner was quite nice, as I recall. The brewery is located in Roermond, a town in the extreme southeast of the Netherlands, almost pushing into Belgium.
Poured into a chalice. A dark sludgy brown-amber, leaving behind just the slightest amount of head. Doesn't last long, however. I can't really call this an attractive-looking brew by any stretch.
The nose is much better: rich malty goodness, a light touch of grassy hops, candied plums and grapes, sugar, and a bit of alcohol.
Not a bad tasting bock by any means, but it certainly isn't anything special. A fine study in malts, I will admit that, with strong notes of bread, caramel, grain and toffee. Like most bocks, Christoffel is dark and fruity, boasting flavors of sherry, figs, plum and grape. Very sweet, but finishes with a slight hoppy dryness that helps things along.
Mouthfeel is thick, but definitely under-carbonated. I know bocks shouldn't be overly crisp, but this one just drank too much like a barleywine to really feel right.
A decent bock, but not nearly as good as others I've sampled this year, nor is it the best from this brewer (I enjoyed their Nobel a great deal). There wasn't anything offensive about it, it drank pretty well, but it wasn't fantastic. (Grade: B)
Looking outside, it's now completely dark, which means that we are now entering the longest night of the year. If you can swing it, snuggle up with a loved one and a nice glass of strong winter ale, and start praying for spring. I know I will be...