Monday, December 17, 2007

Happy Holi-Beers

Beer, glorious beer! My apologies to Lionel Bart, but I believe Oliver! and his friends, had they been of drinking age, would have been singing the praises of hops and malt rather than sausage and mustard and cold jelly and custard.

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that since we are, once again, in the family way, wine drinking will be shelved and I will turn my attention to providing some beer reviews. Beer. It's not just for breakfast anymore. No, that's not what I meant to say. Life is too short for crappy beer. Yes, that's better. Because, honestly, a good beer is just as good as a nice bottle of wine and should be enjoyed and appreciated similarly.

Smuttynose Winter Ale: At the suggestion of TwoBusy, I grabbed this seasonal offering. FYI: all reviews in this post are winter offerings. According to the Smuttynose site, the Winter Ale "is a full-bodied, amber beer brewed with a special Trappist ale yeast. Stylistically reminiscent of a Belgian Abbey Double, it features fruity aromas and flavor, balanced by soft Crystal hops." Yeah, this description just tells me that I have some learnin' to do. I will say that TwoBusy's recommendation was spot-on and it is a very fine beer and great winter brew for holiday parties or just sitting fireside watching the snow fall. It will certainly help you forget the twelve inches of snow in your driveway and the cookie sheet and broomstick you call a shovel waiting for you.

Ipswich Winter Ale: This one I picked up because of the strong showing of the Ipswich IPA, which is quite yummy. Yes, that's beer talk - yummy = more gooder. Yes, more beer jargon. Looks like you need some learnin' too. Anyway, it pours a rich medium brown with a nice head to it. It has a distinct malty aroma and taste and a nice dose of hops, but not overly so. Initial taste is sweet and the finish is a tad bitter, but not off-putting. Another enjoyable beer for this time of year.

Great Divide Hibernation Ale: I've heard great things about Great Divide Brewing, but have never taken the plunge and purchased anything from them. Something about being old and set in ways. But I decided I would allow them the opportunity to introduce themselves to me through their Hibernation Ale. What a great first impression. It's a strong ale that pours a deep red bordering on murky brown. The initial taste was a nice balance of malt and hops. I found that balance quite nice but would have enjoyed a little more hoppiness, but that's just me. That takes nothing away from this beer's goodness. Hibernation is an award-winning beer that also ages very well. Yes, I guess, much like wine, beer can be aged as well, which allows it to develop different character traits over time. See, you learn something new every day. This is not, however, a beer to be taken lightly or shotgunned as it comes in at 8.1% ABV - not too shabby. A very good sippin' beer.

Cup of Holiday Cheer

Long time no see..... yeah, I know -- I'm a big disappointment.

Well, I do have a good excuse -- I'm on the wagon..... until mid-May.... and then God help me, I'll have three-under-three and will probably need to turn from wine to tequila.

Anywho, I was chatting with a co-worker this morning and she mentioned her holiday cocktail of choice -- it sounded quite yummy, so I thought I'd pass it along seeing that I can't partake myself.

She spikes her vanilla eggnog with Baileys (she uses the Caramel variety, but I think the original would be just fine too)..... I have to admit, it's the first time in weeks I was actually tempted by alcohol --
She uses store-bought eggnog..... whereas, I make homemade every year -- check out the recipe here -- don't get me wrong, it's a jug full of heart-attack, but -- it's very yummy.

Would anyone else like to share their holiday concoctions?

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Act Now...or Don't

Like we’ve done for the past few years, Sue and I picked up a bottle of Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais nouveau. This is the French red wine that is fermented for just a few weeks and comes out annually on the third Thursday of November—Beaujolais Day—and is best drunk lightly chilled. It’s also best not to let this wine age more than a few weeks or months at most.

Usually, we’ve enjoyed the Beaujolais. We never expect anything great from it—it’s cheap, light and pretty unexceptional, but it’s usually fun and a decent fruity wine. This year though we couldn’t even finish it. It was too light and tasted like watered-down sour grape juice.

I looked for some other reviews to see if Sue and I were alone in our opinion here. We weren’t—I found some pretty terrible reviews of the 2007 Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais nouveau. I also found some reviewers who enjoyed it for what it was. If I were in the habit of trying this wine every year (which I guess I am), I’d probably still pick up a bottle. Just don’t expect much.

Does anyone else have a good holiday wine for review? Maybe a wine you’ve given or received as a gift? Let us know and post a review.

Happy holidays, everyone.