Rogue Ales from Oregon, puts out quite a variety of delicious beers. Starting with their most popular, Dead Guy Ale, and on down the line to this delightful beer, Santa’s Private Reserve Ale. They have a knack for putting beers out there that are a little outside of the box. Not as much as the over-hyped Dogfish Head, but just as interesting. Let’s dive into this one:
Santa’s Private Reserve is an amazing beer. Amazing smells coming from this beer, and the taste that follows is just as well. Not much spice flavor coming from the beer, which is a nice surprise due to this being a winter ale. Spice is a tricky ingredient for beers, and in my opinion it usually does not work. This beer has a nice balance of malt, and hops, and a nice clean finish, due to the higher carbonation. It is very easy to drink. It reminds me a bit of Alaskan Winter ale or even Sierra Nevada Celebration slightly. All in all, a very good, easy to drink beer.
Rogue is one of my favorite beer companies, and this beer makes me like them even more. One that I am looking forward to is their John John Juniper, which is aged in Gin barrels and brewed with juniper berries. As one who likes Gin, that sounds fantastic.
This beer is a must drink for this time of the year, if you see it, definitely pick up one of the big bottles and enjoy by your Christmas tree. I know I did. “From Oregon with love,” is what this beer should have on the label.
When you think of Cincinnati, does beer come to mind? I would guess not, but in all actuality, it should. This city has a rich German heritage that fueled a massive beer industry in the 1800s. Sadly, most of the breweries did not survive prohibition. One of those breweries that died off but came back was the Christian Moerlein Brewing company.
Christian Moelein was a German immigrant who arrived in the area in 1841 after growing up in Bavaria. If you know anything about beer, you probably know that Bavaria is the place to be for a good brew. Reinheitsgebot anyone? Moerlein knew a thing or two about it, and started up his own brewery here in the area in 1853, which it ran until prohibition, and came back in 1981. The Moerlein company that we know of today came about in 2004. Since then, they have been putting themselves back on the craft beer map, and this beer is one of my favorites of the season. Enter the Christkindl Winter Warmer:
Winter beers are supposed to be a little spicy, and from the last few beer posts, you are probably getting that by now. This beer is heavier on the malts than the spices though, which is not a bad thing at all. The beer has a subtle sweetness, mixed with a mild carbonation, and a hint of spices, that makes this a Cincinnati classic. This is one of my favorite seasonal beers, not my favorite overall, but a solid brew. This is also not the heaviest of the Winter Warmers that I have tried, at only around 6.95% ABV, but this beer is very easy to drink. And by easy to drink you can put down a few before you realize it. Sometimes Moerlein can be hit or miss with me, but with this beer and their Saengerfest Maibock, they make me a believer in the brand.
Good things coming in the future for Moerlein. The Moerlein Lager House will be a brand new microbrewery and restaurant on the Ohio River. I read not long ago that they will have around 100 historic Cincinnati beer recipes at their disposal to experiment with to make your beer experience that much more exciting. It is supposed to open in 2012, which cannot come soon enough! I think Mr. Moerlein would be excited himself.
If you haven’t already, check out their website.
As I have stated before, I love winter beer season. It is the time of year where beers get darker, a little spice comes out to play, and the beers just warm the soul. I usually feel a little disappointment when the season is over, but how many of us would drink these darker specialties if they were available year round? I can’t imagine drinking a winter ale in the heat of July. But that’s me. This is a special time of year, so drink it up while it’s still here!
That said, enter Mt. Carmel’s Winter Ale:
This is, by far, my favorite winter/seasonal brew on the planet. Sure there are some tasty ones out there that I enjoy, but this beer is different.
For starters, just look at the label. While the mass majority of beers that hit the market have a plain label (ex. Bud, Miller, Yuengling, etc.) this beer has a beautiful winter scene gracing the bottle. It is simple, yet elegant. A nice winter scene depicting the brewery in the colder months. Their labels stand out nicely amongst the other random bottles. If you are familiar with their other seasonals, the brewery in the picture changes with the time of year. This is the only true way of telling time in my household. That’s a lie, but you get the idea…
Next up, the flavor. This beer is what a winter beer should be. Best described from the label, “…Scents of Spruce and Ginger mingling with flavors of Orange Spiced bread…” You cannot argue with that description. The beer though pours nice and dark, the head has a stickiness to it, which in turn gives a creamy mouth feel. Reading that, it sounds a little dirty. But dirty this beer is not. The flavors do “mingle” nicely, giving you a taste of spice, a little hint of fruits, and the sweet malt taste that winter beers are known for. It is balanced so perfectly, you do not realize that the ABV is 8%. A true winter warmer.
Lastly, this beer is local. I really enjoy that fact. I know that the beer I am drinking is fresher than some of the others that are on the shelf/tap. This is also cutting down on my carbon footprint, just by supporting this local business. One of their shirt designs sums up this point quite nicely, “Keep your beer local, and make your conversations exotic.” I like that.
If you have not checked out their site, click here to check it out.
Well done Mt. Carmel, this beer is a classic!
Days are getting shorter, and also colder, so that only means that the beer is getting darker. This time a year is a special time for beers, due to the fact that almost every single craft brewer throws out their special “Winter” seasonal brew. 21st Amendment Brewery is no exception to this rule, enter their Fireside Chat.
Winter ales are usually a tad heavier in general, but this beer is a pleasure to drink. I have to admit, what sold me on the beer itself was the packaging. On the six pack cardboard holder, and also the can (more on that later) is a nice artist rendition of F. D. Roosevelt sitting in a comfy chair, smoking a cigarrette, and doing his depression era radio addresses. This picture made me happy when I first laid eyes on it. Such a good image. The other thing that I found interesting on this beer is that it is in cans.
Cans just make sense for beer. Especially craft beer. With a can, you get lighter shipping loads, which makes it easier for smaller craft brewers to turn a profit. It also packs easily, for taking your beer along for the trip. For example, it worked pretty well in the Xtracycle freeloaders. Another perk is that when it goes empty, you crush the can, and have less bulk leftover to pack back out. That is nice, with no clanking around, the can keeps that horrible sound at bay. But, the biggest perk in my opinion when dealing with cans is that there is ZERO light pollution. In a can, you are probably not going to get the dreaded skunky beer that reaches this point from being exposed to too much sunlight during the shipping process. This essentially gets you, the consumer, the beer in the intended state that the brewer would prefer. Seriously, who likes skunky beer? Not I.
Lets get down to the beer itself. I have been nursing a sixer of this brew for around a week. Due to a current cold that I have been struggling with, I have had to take my sweet time just so I could get the full effect of this beer without a ruined sense of taste. I will admit, my first taste of this beer with a cold made me think I was drinking a Spice Girl. Let your mind ponder that for a second.
After my taste buds returned to normal, I have grown to appreciate this delicious beer. Here is the rundown: 7.9% alcohol, which there is not as much of an alcohol taste in this beer. I feel a larger alcohol after-burn would probably ruin it, but that’s just an opinion. Lots of spice flavor going on in here, which when mixed with all of the various malts that are used, it keeps the spice in check. Maybe that was the issue with Anchor Steam’s Christmas ale last year. That was the only beer that I poured out in 2010, it made me feel like I had done a line of ginger. Back to 21st though, the beer finishes nicely, and makes you head to the fridge for another.
Hats off to 21st for making this beer. Winter, spice driven ales are not my forte, but this one is definitely one that I will remember for next season. If you are intrigued, run fast to your local grocer due to the season for this beer goes from October to December.
I have a feeling that FDR himself would approve…