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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Tuesday Tasting: Three Seasonal Ales

Tuesday Tasting is a regular feature of Lyke2Drink that explores some of the best beers, wines and spirits on the market. This week we taste three cold weather seasonal brews designed to warm us up during the harsh weather months.

The hunt for beers of the season continues this week. I was in Chicago at the end of last week and during some limited free time tried to find some Midwestern holiday brews. I'm sad to report that, while I had some great beer, the only holiday brew I was able to find was the 2006 edition of Anchor's Our Christmas Ale. I was surprised to find that it was the only holiday beer available at the Clark Street Ale House and my attempt to visit Sheffield's Wine and Beer Garden was thwarted by the odd fact that they do not open until 3 p.m. on Fridays. This was all the more frustrating because signs in the windows advertised they had Goose Island's seasonal celebration beer on tap. Like golf, the trek to Sheffield's was a good (albeit windy) walk ruined when we found the doors locked.

Anchor 2006 Our Christmas Ale: This is a dark meaty brew, with a nice roasted flavor and a good hop and malt balance. The dark thick head on the draught laced the glass perfectly. This San Francisco brewery knows what it is doing when it comes to making a special holiday beer. Running across this beer on an annual basis is certainly a holiday treat.

Winter's Bourbon Cask Ale: This Anheuser-Busch seasonal is 6 percent alcohol by volume and brewed at the company's Fort Collins, Colo., facility. I found the sweetness of the Madagascar vanilla beans dominated this brew, somewhat obscuring the Bourbon barrel oak. It was sweet, but not overpowering. The very fizzy head quickly dissipated leaving the red brew appearing a little flat.

Heavy Seas Winter Storm: From Clipper City Brewing in Baltimore this imperial ESB is 7.5 percent alcohol by volume. It had a rich amber red color and thick head. There is a dry, hoppy flavor profile with slight hints of roasted barley. Very smooth for a beer of this strength.

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