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Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Tuesday Tasting: Nine Seasonal Brews

Tuesday Tasting is a regular feature of Lyke2Drink that explores some of the best beers, wines and spirits on the market. This week we continue on our holiday beer odyssey, tasting nine Christmas and winter seasonal brews as we close out 2006.

Brew Masters 2006 Private Reserve: The folks at Anheuser-Busch put out this 8.5 percent alcohol by volume in a flip top 46.5 ounce bottle perfect for holiday gatherings. The beer has a slightly sweet malt characteristic, with a lingering alcohol flavor at the end of the brew.

Duck-Rabbit Baltic Porter: This very dark black brew is thick and loaded with flavor. The North Carolina craft brewery has built a 9 percent alcohol by volume beer around rich cocoa, coffee, sweet fig and malty flavors. Perfect for the coldest winter evening.

Left Hand Snow Bound Winter Ale: They know a few things about surviving winter's chill in Colorado and this 7.6 alcohol by volume brew is a perfect example. This ale replaces the XXXmas ale in the Left Hand line up and is a rich reddish brown color. There are hints of several spices, with nutmeg being the clear dominator of the flavor profile. The ale finishes with a slightly malty flavor.

Michelob Celebrate Chocolate: Sold as part of a gift pack with a pair of glasses and the Vanilla version, this 8.5 percent alcohol by volume beer has clear cocoa flavors and sweet milk chocolate tones. The brew tends to be a bit too much on the sweet side for me, approaching cloying in the overall flavor profile.

Michelob Celebrate Vanilla Oak: The second half of the holiday gift pack is a lager aged on Bourbon barrel oak and uses fresh vanilla beans. At 10 percent alcohol by volume this beer is remarkably smooth with an attractive vanilla sweetness.

Rudolph's Revenge Winter Ale: From the Cropton Brewery in the United Kingdom, this ale is a cloudy red color. At 6 percent alcohol by volume it gives off a tart, almost black cherry flavor profile.

Scaldis Noel Premium: Known as Bush de Noel in its native Belgium, this unfiltered ale undergoes a second bottle finishing. The result is a truly amazing 13 percent alcohol by volume beer that is thick, rich and chewy. Multiple layers of flavor make this a perfect brew to share by a fireside.

Samuel Smith's Winter Welcome Ale: This beer from the U.K. is a light brown color and is 6 percent alcohol by volume. Mellow and smooth with a good balance between the barley malt and hops.

Saranac Season's Best Nut Brown Ale: This marks the 25th anniversary of holiday beers from this Utica, N.Y., brewery. This brown ale has a slightly roasted characteristic and is a bit thin compared to most holiday beers. Still refreshing and enjoyable.

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