There are a number of very tasty holiday / seasonal beers available to the craft beer drinker and from my perspective it is “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year”. Some of the selections are quite hoppy, taking advantage of the recent fall hop harvest; some are quite malty focusing more on the sweet side, and some use holiday spices to make things interesting. I usually pick up a number of these to enjoy over the holidays and are part of an annual purchase and some of these are new. There are some very tasty winter / holiday / seasonal beers and go out and pick up something new. Below are some that I have recently sampled.
Sierra Nevada – Celebration 2012 (6.8% ABV and 65 IBU), is an American IPA and fresh hops are used in the brewing process. I am currently reading Mitch Steele’s IPA book and he describes Celebration as one of the first IPAs that was brewed by craft brewers. It is a fantastic beer and one that is on my “buy list” each year. This is one for the hopheads.
Left Hand – Fade to Black Vol. 4 (6.5% ABV and 64 IBU), is a Black IPA or a Rocky Mountain Black Ale as described on the label. Each year, Left Hand releases a different volume of Fade to Black and this year’s version if for the hop lover. This one was not too hoppy and I really enjoyed it and yes this is on my “buy list”.
Magic Hat – Heart of Darkness (5.7% ABV and 30 IBU), is a Stout and is a very tasty one. Heart of Darkness is malt forward with notes of chocolate / cocoa, and it is very easy to drink. This was the first beer I tried from Magic Hat and it made the “buy list”. I will look for additional offerings from Magic Hat in 2013.
Others on the “buy list” – these are just a few and all have been previously reviewed.
Avery – Old Jubilation (8.3% ABV and 45 IBU), is an English Old Ale that is malty and warming – a very tasty beer that is to be savored.
Deschutes – Jubelale (6.7% ABV and 60 IBU), is a Strong Ale that is a mix of malty and hoppy. One first gets malty sweetness and then the hop bitterness kicks in. URL - http://www.deschutesbrewery.com/brew/jubelale
Firestone Walker – Velvet Merlin (5.5% ABV and 27 IBU), is a wonderful Oatmeal Stout with a creamy mouth feel and focuses on malts with hints of coffee and chocolate. URL - http://www.firestonebeer.com/beers/products/velvet-merlin-fall-and-winter
Did not make the list
Goose Island – Christmas Ale (7.3% ABV and ?? IBU), is a Brown Ale that I did not like at all, it is better than macro-beer. I was really expecting a tasty beer from the Goose as I enjoy some of their other offerings and this beer did not meet expectations.