Putting up a post this week on Christmas beers surely strikes several of you as last-minute, but are you really done with your shopping? Yeah, we didn't think so.
We recently loaded up for the season with several six-packs that caught our eye at Central Market, including Hibernation Ale from Great Divide Brewing Co., the Christmas Ale from Anchor Brewing Co., and Avery Brewing Co.'s Old Jubilation Ale.
Anchor's was great. A welcoming but light aroma, amazingly balanced on the palate, not too heavy but clearly Christmas-y, with some evident spices. A friend agreed it was the beer equivalent of cranberry salad on the table at Christmas dinner. You may notice we drank them all too fast to give you a photograph.
So the photo you do get is of Avery's Old Jubilation, which was basically a full 180 degrees from the Anchor offering.
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Avery has showed up in our pages a few times, and each time it's been heavy (weighing in at 16.45 percent booze) or otherwise "fiercely" flavored. This one was no different. Sweet-smelling and booze-forward, Old Jubilation had an arboreal, tree-like thing going on -- eucalyptus almost.
You could spin that positively as a successful winter warmer, the pleasing taste of a snow-covered evergreen. That wouldn't be wrong. But, really, the booze content felt much stiffer than the labeled 8.3 percent, and it drifted toward a medicinal feel at times.
As the beer warmed it improved. A sweet film was left behind, and the malt came through better. The sharp, boozy feeling faded and a buttery feel developed.
Frankly, as far as seasonals go, we're content with our homegrown Coffee Porter from Real Ale in Blanco. That's not a Christmas beer, but it's as welcome a kickoff to the sort-of-but-not-really-cold season as there is.