Monday, December 30, 2013

On the Ninth (and Tenth)Day of Beermas...Great Lakes Christmas Ale and Block Three Sinterklaas!

Want to get the Beermas Countdown done by New Year's Day, which has been difficult with an intense work schedule this past couple of weeks.  But I've got a day off before the absolute shitshow that will be New Years Eve, so here's a couple more.

Quick note: another one of the initial brews I set out to review, Captain Lawrence Winter Ale, went a bit south before we got a chance to try it.  Crazy how that works sometimes; I had a bottle of Grand River Jubilation Winter Ale saved in the cellar from last year and it held up well, while this brew was picked up in August and didn't last.  Might not have stored it well.  Fortunately, a winter brew from just around the corner in St. Jacobs was able to step up to the plate.

Beer: Sinterklaas Winter Ale
Brewery: Block Three (St. Jacobs, ON)
Type: Belgian Dark Ale
ABV: 5.4%

First winter seasonal from the region's newest brewery.  Nice to see Block Three get on the ball with some cool seasonal releases - makes for an exciting lineup, and gives geeks like me something to look forward to every month or so.  After the bold German bock stylings of Samichlaus, Sinterklaas is a milder Belgian Ale also named after old St. Nick - Dutch style, in this case.

Poured into my Block Three snifter.  Amber caramel in colour, with about a half inch of head that recedes into a thick ring with some swirls and islands floating about.

Nose is very fruitcake like, or so I'm told, since I never eat that shit.  Cinnamon, caramel, nutmeg, raisins, candied cherry.  Very nice nose to it.

Tasty Belgian ale, considerably drier and more tart than the nose had led on.  Still, a tasty blend of tart cherry, spice, malt, Belgian yeast, and dry puckery hops.  Medium bodied, slightly sticky, and with moderate carbonation; not too boozy, which gives it some great drinkability.

Not quite as 'fruitcake' as I'd expected, but it nevertheless is a solid Belgian-style ale with good tartness and various Christmassy flavours.   Another fine brew from Block Three!

Beer: Great Lakes Christmas Ale
Brewery: Great Lakes Brewing Co. (Cleveland, OH)
Type: Winter Warmer
ABV: 7.5%

Next up is the annual Christmas brew from Great Lakes...the American one.  Another pickup from Premier Gourmet in Buffalo.

Poured into a small whisky glass.  Amber-ruby in colour, with a generous dollop of cappuccino foam that produced lots of lacing and had some remarkable retention.  Great looking brew.

Nose is more from the gingerbread family of Christmas beer: malty, cinnamon, nutmeg, and bold ginger.  Like a ginger cookie.

Tastes much the same - lots of spices and ginger, with some additional apple, cherry (or perhaps cranberry, since it was somewhat tart).  Highly enjoyable brew, and with a moderate body, gentle carbonation, and only a mild booziness, quite drinkable too.

Finishing off the countdown tomorrow/Wednesday with Southern Tier 2XMAS and Anchor Old Foghorn Barleywine!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

On the Eighth Day of Beermas...Anchor Our Special Ale!

Beer: Anchor Our Special Ale
Brewery: Anchor Brewing Company (San Francisco, CA)
Type: Winter Warmer
ABV: 5.5%

Hope everyone out there had a wonderful, safe, and beer-filled Christmas!  I played host this year, as we usually do, and despite the craziness of the month before, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were relatively relaxing, giving us lots of time to try out some new board games and sample some Christmas brews.  Because of a lot of last minute bartending shifts, and the general business of Christmastime, I didn't quite get the Beermas Countdown finished by Christmas Eve as I had foolishly anticipated, but we're going to carry on nevertheless.  After all, the season is hardly over! Technically, the Twelve Days of Christmas actually begins on December the 25th (lasting until the 6th of January, when it in some places it is traditionally the time of taking down the tree), and Yule is still in full swing for a bit.  Moreover, I've never been a fan of 'ending' Christmas on Christmas Day; all that hard work and preparation gone by in a mighty rush.  I've always enjoyed the calm of Boxing Day and the week following Christmas; there's leftovers in the fridge, presents to play around with, and more time to enjoy all the goodies you've spent so much time preparing.  So Happy Boxing Day everyone, and let's get started!

Another classic holiday ale today that, like the Redhook Winterhook, is a changing recipe and so the year in which you purchase and enjoy Anchor Our Special Ale makes a difference.  Not only does the beer's composition change from year to year, but so does the tree on the label; although the tree will always be of the Christmas variety, this year's batch features a lovely California White Fir. Unfortunately, the website declares that the recipe remains top secret from the public, and so there's little to go on except ones own sense of taste and smell.  Let's get to it.

I cracked this brew open on the 24th just before a large ham and potatoes dinner.  Pours a deep caramel brown colour into a short tasting glass.  Half an inch of mocha head that recedes into a thick ring with lots of lace.

Nose is most certainly Christmassy - big malt, toffee, chocolate, and loads of spices, including ginger, allspice and cinnamon.  I'm also getting a decent hit of evergreen boughs as well.

Very tasty Christmas ale that tends to emphasize spices over the malt.  So far this season we've seen a pretty good mix of the two, with the British style going for the richness of the malt, and with this one resembling mulled wine in its spice composition.  Spruce and cinnamon are the heaviest hitters for me, with nutmeg and toffee coming in the background.

Certainly an enjoyable beer to be had around this time of year.  Spices get a great chance to show off, and the brew has a sufficient malty base to provide some nice heft.  Definitely will pick up a few more of these in the coming years to see how the recipe changes!

Friday, December 20, 2013

On the Seventh Day of Beermas...Wychwood Bah Humbug!

Beer: Wychwood Bah Humbug Christmas Cheer
Brewery: Wychwood Brewery (Witney, UK)
Type: Winter Warmer
ABV: 5%

"Marley was dead, to begin with..."

Bit of a rough week so far.  Tons of Christmas stuff to do, and with a series of shitty driving days, getting around to get things taken care of has been a pain.  On top of all this, I had a miserable drive through Toronto to get to a job interview, and I didn't end up getting the job.  With still a lot of errands left to do, a rapidly increasing Visa bill, lots of work shifts still to go, and with more rough weather headed this way, I'm starting to feel a bit like Scrooge, which is typical for this time of year.  Christmas is just far enough away, and that initial feeling of excitement at the beginning of December has worn off quite a bit.

But, like with the story of Scrooge, there's a happy ending in store: most of the Christmas tasks are done, and I'm looking forward to seeing everyone over the holidays.  Despite the shitty drive on the 401 (two hours from Mississauga to Highway 400) and the bad news from the interview, I was able to spend some quality time with the folks and decorate the family Christmas tree, which was a nice treat.  And, let's not forget - there's still lots of Christmas beer still to come!  So let's keep Christmas well and enjoy the finer parts of the season still to come!

Poured into a nonic pint glass.  Amber caramel colour, clear, and with a nice sturdy cap of foam that recedes away after awhile.

Nose is quite malty, with a bit of tea hops and a lovely maraschino cherry and cinnamon component that I'm quite digging.

Tasty Christmas ale that is one I keep going back to every year - the name and label itself is enough to warrant picking up at least one.  Similar malty notes, that same cherry and spices, orange, clove, and a dry tea hop finish to clear things up.

Mild bodied, medium-to-light carbonation, a bit oily.

Hard to stay grumpy with the Christmas tree lit, the Rat Pack singing Christmas carols through the stereo, and with a tasty English Christmas ale in my hand.  Less than a week to go - cheers to all of you (and stay safe out there on the roads!)

Thursday, December 19, 2013

On the Sixth Day of Beermas...Goose Island Sixth Day!

Beer: Goose Island Sixth Day
Brewery: Goose Island (Chicago, IL)
Type: Strong Brown Ale
ABV: 8.3%

Moving our way through our Christmas Brew list and we come across another big seasonal offering from another big American craft brewer - Goose Island of Chicago.  Well, I guess 'craft' is a tricky word to use here.  You see, Goose Island was more or less purchased by Anheuser Busch in 2011, meaning it is now owned by one of the biggest breweries in the world, the same folks who brew Budweiser and Bud Light.  So what does this mean?  Truth be told, I don't know; I'm still more or less ambivalent towards the actual business of brewing - it's the results I really care about.  And since I haven't really had a consistent and thorough look at Goose Island's lineup - and certainly not with regards to their quality over time - I can't truly say I know whether their brews are better or worse than before (though if their Bourbon County Stout is any indicator, I'd say they're still doing just fine).   At the very least, it looks like distribution should be on the up and up, so maybe it might mean more Goose Island brews our way maybe?

Goose Island's more well-known seasonal is their particularly tasty Christmas Ale, a nicely balanced and flavorful brown ale.  I wasn't able to p
ick up a bottle of that, but they had much boozier version of the Christmas Ale that is Sixth Day Festive Brown Ale.  Sixth Day is certainly well-suited for being slotted into the Countdown, and just for kicks, let's put it in at number six, shall we?

Poured into a small nonic glass.  There was some big visible sediment in the bottle, so after swirling that in the result was a hazy brown-chestnut hue with a quarter inch of foam that recedes into a thick ring.

Nose is nicely boozy and malty, with an American Barleywine quality to it.  Toffee, brown sugar, chocolate, tea hops, caramel.

Landing somewhere between a barleywine and a brown ale, this one is hard to spot.  Big and many like a barleywine, but slightly held back; nutty and tea-like like a brown ale, but amped up too high. Despite this strange placement, however, the result is very tasty.  Spices, cinnamon, boozy malt, chocolate, floral/herbal hops, apple cider, toffee.   Bit of dry bitterness to the finish.  Very nice indeed.

Thicker bodied, medium carbonation.

Although I still lean towards the Christmas Ale, this is a great boozy substitute.  Quite enjoyable Christmas brew indeed!

On the Fifth Day of Beermas...Here comes Samichlaus, Here comes Samichlaus, right down Samichlaus Lane!

Beer: Samichlaus
Brewery: Schloss Eggenberg (Eggenberg, Austria)
Type: Doppelbock
ABV: 14%

Bit of a change of plans for this post - I was all geared up to do Thiriez' Biere de Noel, but after drinking it I decided that the beer had gone off, so rather than do it a disservice by a review, I just left it off the list entirely.  A shame, but it does sometimes happen.   Fortunately we have an excellent substitute for today, a doppelbock from Austria that is by a wide margin our the strongest beer in the countdown.  This year marks the second anniversary of Samichlaus's arrival in Ontario, and although he certainly seems more than welcome up on the province's rooftops (click click click), the LCBO and AGCO were initially not so welcoming of old St. Nick.

Seems that a few years back, the folks who sought to distribute Samichlaus in Ontario were met with resistance from both the LCBO and AGCO (Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario).  Not for the strength of the beer, mind you, which at 14% is certainly among the very strongest beers to be available on liquor store shelves.   No, the reason for the initial refusal for having the brew in the province was the name 'Samichlaus' (Santa Claus in Swiss-German), which they argued didn't fit in with the LCBO's stance on 'don't promote beer based on Santa Claus', I guess.  Thus, when the brew was introduced into Ontario in 2008, a big sticker was plastered over the name to protect our precious little snowflakes from knowing the truth about the man in red's endorsement for seasonal boozy German-style ales.  In 2010, the AGCO chimed in and had the beer refused again - this time, because of the image of Santa on the cover.  Of course, the whole situation smacked of an awful stupidity that demonstrates the very worst of these provincial institutions.  To ban a beer based on a label that is potentially 'appealing to children' is ludicrous.  Children shouldn't be wandering around the LCBO shelves without supervision anyway, and if they do, they aren't going to be going for an obscure bottle of Austrian beer (though maybe that brightly coloured Santa-supported bottle of eggnog might be more intriguing, hmm?)  What were they thinking would happen - that some eight-year old with a bottle opener is going to crack one of these open and chug it down all because Santa is on the bottle?  Oh, but what if the little tykes find a bottle of Samichlaus in Mom and Dad's beer fridge?  Surely the image of Santa will prove to be utterly irresistible for youngsters, who will drop their toys at the mere sight of a bottle of "Santa Claus juice"?
Might be a good time for the parents to take some responsibility here, and you know...stop their kids from drinking...

Fortunately, clearer heads prevailed for one reason or another, and Samichlaus is now a regular beer for the Christmas season.  And what a beer it is...

Poured into my Duvel tulip glass.  Dark caramel ruby in colour, with a half inch of head that boils off to a thick ring - not uncommon for beers this strong.

Smells very sweet at boozy - rich caramel, plum, vanilla, tart cherry, lightly burned sugar.  Fan-freaking-tastic.

Lovely and sweet, very rich, a real pleasure to sip.
Big sweet caramel entry, vanilla, plums and grapes, before a boozy spicy finish.  Light puckery aftertaste.  Tastes very much like a sweet barleywine, rather than a doppelbock (maybe a tripelbock or quadbock?).  Either way, it's a potent and inviting brew that has a moderate body and strong enough carbonation to keep things moving.

Terrific brew, one I will keep coming back to again and again, so long as the forces that be decide that I am capable of handling it.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

On the Fourth Day of Beermas...St. Peter's Winter Ale

Beer: St. Peter's Winter Ale
Type: Winter Warmer
Brewery: St. Peter's (Suffolk, UK)
ABV: 6.5%

(Sorry for the delay between beer days - it's been a crazy week with work and the job front and getting Christmas things going...)

Another holiday standby that often rears its head in the LCBO around this time of year.  I tend to get it simply because I enjoy English Christmas ales this time of year, and St. Peter's is a pretty solid brewery whose products come in these unusual bottles that definitely appeal.

Poured into my St Peter's glass that I received last year and which has spent most of this past year on the shelf - clearly it is due for some use!  Dark brown brew, much darker than I'd remembered and certainly more so than the Sam Smiths. Almost getting into porter territory here.  Ruby highlights, good head of foam that recedes into a bubbly ring.
Nose is a nice malty bomb - toffee, bit of chocolate, dark fruits, spices, caramel.  A bit like Christmas pudding.

Tastes quite nice as well - malty, spicy, a good Christmas brew that would also play well at other times throughout the winter (so I guess "winter ale" is appropriate here!)  Dry tea hop finish, typical for the style.

Thicker mouthfeel, low carbonation.

For maltier tastes, this is a solid Christmas brew to go with.  Nice caramel and toffee, bit of nuttiness, and some extra spices to boot.  Goes well on a cold, snowy night such as this.

Monday, December 9, 2013

On the 3.5th Day of Beermas - Sigtuna Midvinterblot Russian Stout!

Beer: Sigtuna Midvinterblot
Brewery: Sigtuna Brygghus (Sigtuna, Sweden)
Type: Russian Imperial Stout
ABV: 8%

Remember how I said that if I came across any new Christmas beers on top of what I already purchased, they'd somehow be included in the Beermas Countdown?  Cause that's what happening.  Only three days into the Countdown and already a bunch of new Christmas brews have hit the LCBO shelves - amazingly, there are a bunch of new faces to the mix, so I'm pretty excited!

Scandinavia and Germania were woefully lacking in the preliminary list of Christmas brews, so fortunately we've got them somewhat covered, starting with a brew from Sweden - which is not a brewing nation I get to encounter all that often!   I'm not sure what Midvinterblot means, but it certainly sounds like the kind of brew that would be most welcome as the temperature drops and the sun is blotted from the sky before 5pm.  Indeed, it may not be Midvinter just yet, but it sure feels like it around the city.  We've just got our first legitimate snowfall of the season, and so with the house fully decorated and the lights all aglow, it looks considerably more like Christmas (or Yule, for that matter) than it did just a few days ago.

Sigtuna Brygghus is a craft brewery from Sigtuna, which is the oldest "city" in Sweden, despite being smaller in population than what can legally be termed a city in Sweden.  Oh well, when you're founded five years before the birth of Cnut the Great (980 CE), I guess you get a pass on certain things.   First brew of theirs that I've seen before, and with a website entirely in Swedish, there's not much I can say about Sigtuna (based on the number of reviews there are on Beer Advocate, it doesn't look like it's received much play outside of its native Sverige), so I guess we'll just let the brew speak for itself!

Poured into a goblet.  Chestnut-black in colour, 1/4 inch of head that receded into a thick ring that lasted throughout what has ended up being a slow sipping session.

Nose is quite rich and pleasant - roasted malt, sweet molasses, chocolate, cherry, orange peel, chocolate loaf.  Bit of coffee in there as well.

Tasty stout, though a bit thinner than I'd expected for a Russian Stout.  Felt more like a porter, to be honest, but at the very least it's a damned tasty one.  Rich boozy malt, cinnamon, coffee, chocolate, and a long finish that reminds me of chocolate cookies (to be honest, the exact taste I get is Rice Krispies with nutella, which I don't know if the brewer was exactly going for, but if he did - kudos to him!).   Nice enjoyable sipper on a cold December evening.

Thinner bodied, sticky, initially with a strong carbonation, but a few minutes of warmth and air cleared that out a bit.

Great first brew from Sigtuna - hope to see them back at the LCBO with something new in the near future.  I'm sure I'll snap up a few more of these to get me through the rest of the Vinter!

On the Third Day of Beermas...Troegs Mad Elf!

Beer: Troegs Mad Elf
Brewery: Troegs Brewing Co. (Hershey, PA)
Type: Belgian Strong Dark Ale
ABV: 11%

Despite our best intentions to try to streamline the Christmas Decorating Day process, it always turns into a hectic and stressful afternoon.  It begins well before the tree is brought upstairs from the basement storage. The layout of our house is kind of stupid (the result of having one large square room that counts as office, library, den, bar, and dining room), and so every year there is the debate as to where the tree should go, because no matter where it goes, it always ends up blocking something.  Once placement is finally settled, assembling the tree is the next challenge.  We have an artificial tree, which tend to come with their own Christmas lights pre-attached, but we always like to add a few more strings to throw some colour and sparkle into the mix.  Sounds great on paper, but the procedure always turns into a Griswaldian nightmare of tangled lines and burned out bulbs.   Last year, we found a way to make things easier by simply leaving the extra lights attached to the tree, meaning all we have to do is assemble the three pieces. Or so we thought.  Turns out one of the strands was essentially damaged beyond all hope, and so we had to start all over.   Don't get me wrong, the net result is always spectacular, but it nevertheless Christmas Tree Day is a mad occasion in our household - one that definitely calls for a mad beer.

(Oh yes, in case people are wondering - yes, those are lobsters under our Christmas tree.  Family tradition, don't ask me why.)

Mad Elf is Troegs' winter seasonal offering, and it is a brew that has featured on many a "Christmas Beers You Should Try" list online, so I knew it was something well worth seeking out. The name itself is quite appealing right off the get-go: one can certainly envision an elf going batshit insane after years and years of incessant Christmas music, unpaid hard labor, people doubting your very existence - all the while knowing that one day you might be selected by the powers that be to live out the rest your life spying on small children and making nightly Orwellian reports to Miniluv (North Pole Div) regarding their devotion to Big Claus and any incidents of counter-revolutionary playcrime.

Yes, I have a bit of an issue with "Elf on the Shelf."  We'll just leave it there.

Mad Elf is an interesting looking brew in terms of style - instead of the big English ales, winter warmers and stouts one usually sees this time of year, what we have here is a Belgian Strong Dark Ale that packs quite the boozy punch at 11%.  The bottle states that Elf is brewed with both honey and tart cherries, which begs the question: will we have a festive, fruity Christmas cake of a beer, or will Mad Elf be more kriek-like in its complexion?  

Let's find out:

Poured into a goblet.  Nice bright cherry red and caramel, with a a thin crown of head that yields just a bit of lace.  It's a boozier beer, that's for sure.

Nose is cinnamon, spices, a bit of cherry, Belgian yeast, raw honey, sugar, and booze.

I didn't actually know this was a Belgian ale going in, but you can certainly taste the influence of the yeast in this one.  There's a mild tartness from the cherries, some mild malt, good mix of spices (cinnamon, nutmeg), honey, a bit of chocolate, and a boozy Barleywine quality to it.  The cherries remind me a great deal of a mead that is made just outside of Niagara, in which some sour cherries are added to the mix.  The interplay of honey and cherry is quite enjoyable - different enough that I'm appreciating every sip for what it is.

Good heft to the brew, certainly has that "Belgian barleywine" feel to it.  Well-carbonated, just a bit syrupy.

Unique Christmas brew experience, that's for sure.  I enjoyed it a great deal (my wife not so much, but she's not a fan of sour cherries).  The 11% certainly helped me enter into that blissful sleepy state I love to be in when I stare vacantly at my Christmas tree, savoring the colours, the lights and the decorations that I have no desire to put away for the foreseeable future.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

On the Second Day of Beermas...Samuel Smith's Winter Welcome Ale

Beer: Samuel Smith's Winter Welcome Ale
Brewery: Samuel Smith's (Tadcaster, North Yorkshire UK)
Type: Winter Warmer
ABV: 6%

Starting to get into more of the Christmas spirit, despite the lack of wintry weather.  This is a job made easier here in Kitchener-Waterloo with the help of the Christkindl Market, a traditional German-style market that takes place at Kitchener's City Hall in the first week of December.  I always make a special point of going each year to sample some of the lebkuchen and stollen, knock back a cup of gluhwein, listen to some German Christmas carols, and check out the Weihnacht toys and decorations from the vendors.  Perhaps not quite on the same scale as some of the huge Christkindl Markets in Germany, I'll admit, but it's still a great little dose of traditional German Christmas to get things rolling early in December.

Usually around this time of the season I tend to also snap up a couple bottles of today's Christmas beer, Sam Smith's Winter Welcome.  A good quality English festive ale to be sure, but the real appeal here is the beer label, which features a delightful winter scene that is redesigned for every year.  This year's edition has more of a James Herriott doing his rounds in Yorkshire feel, with a lovely white horse somewhat longingly eyeing a pint of Sam Smith's, but instead being fed an apple.  Truly, there is no justice for our equine friends.

Pours a light amber-caramel colour, good sturdy head of a half inch that settles into a thick ring with lots of icicle lace.  Certainly looks the part.

Nose is faint, but pleasant.  Caramel malt, green apple, cinnamon, a bit of orange peel.

Nice and malty, tea and green apple hops, a bit of cinnamon and spice.  Very easy to drink.  Finishes slightly dry and tart, bit of hop or spice bitterness there.

Reminded me more of a classic English pale than a winter warmer.  Might be more of my palate changing, or this year's batch was a little milder on the spices than other times.  Still, a pleasant English ale with a festive label is certainly welcome this time of year.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

On the First Day of Beermas...Redhook Winterhook Winter Ale

Beer: Winterhook
Brewery: Redhook Ale Brewery (Seattle, WA; Portsmouth, NH)
Style: Winter Warmer
ABV: 6%

First beer on our Christmas 2013 list!  We've just crossed into December, and so our Christmas planning is in full swing; the tree is ready to be decorated tomorrow, preliminary Christmas wish lists are being made, and there is the ever-so-slight chance that we might actually get Christmas cards out on time maybe perhaps.  Even though there's a nip in the air and more than enough Christmas carol radio penetration to feel like it's late December, it's still early in the season - it doesn't quite feel like we're quite there yet, so to get us in the mood I figure it's time to get this Christmas Beer countdown off and running!

I more or less picked up this brew solely due to its unique bottle design.  Something about the old time soda pop/Canadian stubby look was instantly appealing.  The label design is also quite sharp, as it looks like a Christmas sweater stitched lovingly by Scandinavians living in Minnesota.

This brew is from Redhook Ale Brewery, which was one of the first craft breweries to get off the ground, pumping out brews in the Seattle area since 1981, and from a second facility in Portsmouth New Hampshire in 1996.  They have a decent selection of ales and lagers,with  a lot of the usual sort of suspects (an ESB, an IPA, Witbier) as well as a couple seasonals, including a very intriguing Pumpkin Porter.  Each Christmas, their winter warmer - Winterhook - is released, though it always tastes a little different from each year to the next.  This is because the brew has undergone a slight revision for every yearly incarnation since it was first released in 1985 (hence the #29 on the bottle).   This year, there has been some extra dry hopping in the brewing process, which should give the brew a nice hoppy aroma.  Let's dig in.

Poured into a nonic glass.  Dark chestnut ruby in colour, with a quarter inch of light foam that recedes into a thick ring.  Some icicles of lacing.

Despite the promise of a bit of extra hop aroma due to the added dry hopping of this year's batch, the nose is fairly malt-forward, but there is a nice earthy/grassy hop presence coming through as well.

Tastes like a solid winter warmer that is malty enough to fall within that heavier brewing category, but has enough pale ale elements to be quite drinkable.  Malty, bit of chocolate, earthy hops, light taste of pine, bit of fruit and spice, grassiness. Mild booziness to it.

Not a bad start to the season, although not the Christmassy blast I might have expected - just a highly drinkable hopped red ale.   Nothing wrong with that.

The season is young, and there are many holiday themed brews still yet to come!