For Beer People, there really is no better time of the year than Christmastime. For starters, we now have an excuse (as if we need one) to drink beer! And Christmastime is that magical time of year when brewmasters around the world release their seasonal offerings. Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus, and he loves him some caramel and chocolate malts and festive spices. This year, my wife Beth and I hit up the BevMo - hooray BevMo! - in search of yuletide brew. The selection was somewhat daunting, so I grabbed the Samuel Adams Winter Sampler box (containing 2 of the following: Cranberry Lambic, Old Fezziwig Ale, Cream Stout, Winter Lager, Holiday Porter, and their boring old Boston Lager) and a 750 ml bottle (1 pint, 9.4 ozs - close enough) of Sam's Chocolate Bock. I'm a highly efficient holiday shopper, I am. But you don't care about that part. You wanna know how the stuff tastes. Alrighty then.
Tonight I started with the Cranberry Lambic. I will tell you that along with my love of stouts, porters, amber ales and lagers - the heavy stuff - I do like a good fruity beer. The Germans and Belgians excel at these, and the Cranberry Lambic was heavy on the cranberry. As in, it tastes like an Ocean Spray Shandy. This was a bit off-putting - I like my beers to taste like beer, not Fanta - and the Cranberry Lambic suffers from the same overpowering fruit flavor that marks Sam Adams' Cherry Wheat. Sweet with a very tart finish, light despite the deep reddish and amber hue, it didn't strike me as a winter brew - this would be ideal on a hot summer day.
Next up: the Old Fezziwig Ale. Now this is a Christmas ale! Very complex, with strong caramel notes, and the flavor of mulled cider - orange, cinnamon, and ginger. I didn't get the bitter hoppiness that I found with the much less interesting Winter Lager. The dark brown color and relatively low carbonation scream "heavy", and indeed it was. Highly recommend this one; serve it before or after Christmas dinner, as the spices might be a bit much for the meal itself. I will say that a beer like this almost demands a higher alcohol content; both the Cranberry Lambic and the Old Fezziwig Ale have a 5.9%.
On tap for tomorrow: the Cream Stout and the Holiday Porter.