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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Tuesday Tasting: Six Seasonal Beers

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 our quest to taste holiday and winter brews, finding six additions to our list during travels around North and South Carolina.

You never totally know what to expect when you order a Christmas beer or a winter ale. The "average" of these cold weather and celebratory brews is a deep amber beer with a moderate to thin head, plenty of either hops or malt along with some spices, and a good ration of alcohol. The six pack of holiday beers tasted this week displays all of these characteristics and more.

Coors Winterfest: The folks in Colorado have been turning out a seasonal brew for longer than most. This year's edition of Winterfest is a smooth amber brew with some sweet hints from a generous amount of malt. If you are having a bunch of people over and want to serve just holiday and winter brews, this is a good step up brew for those who normally consume pale lagers.

Lump of Coal Dark Holiday Stout: This brew from Ridgeway Brewery in the United Kingdom pours with a healthy head for a bottled stout. The 8 percent alcohol by volume clearly comes through in the aftertaste. This is generally on the malty side, but a little thin.

RJ Rocker First Snow Ale: This draught from Spartanburg, S.C., is a golden color and medium bodied brew. The flavor profile is full of spices, including cinnamon, cloves and perhaps some orange zest. A refreshing change of pace.

Samuel Adams Winter Lager: This beer came out of the bottle a nice amber color with a decent head that stayed with the brew. Good malt, hints of spices and a body you come to expect from a Samuel Adams beer. With everything Boston Beer Company does across an amazing range of brewing styles, they can probably afford to take a few more risks and dial this one up a bit more. Still a very drinkable beer that will not disappoint holiday guests.

Thomas Creek Jingle Bell Bock: This Greenville, S.C., brewer has produced a brown dopplebock-style holiday beer that weighs in at 5.7 percent alcohol by volume. There is a nice balance between the hops and barley in this draught, with subtle hints of spice. Highly enjoyable.

Winterhook Winter Ale: The folks at Redhook Ale Brewery have produced an orange-amber beer that starts off slightly hoppy, but quickly fades. This 6 percent alcohol by volume beer gives off hints of ginger, nutmeg and perhaps some other spice, but nothing clearly dominates.


Anonymous said...

I’ve had the pleasure of trying the Samuel Adams Winter Lager, the Winterhook Winter Ale, and the Coors Winterfest. That is also the ranking I put to them. I thought the Sam Adams was a brilliant beer for what it was and wish I could find more if it. The Winterhook was nice, and I always enjoy Redhook’s offerings. The Coors was much better than their usual fare, but still far below the other two IMHO.

Of course none of these comes within artillery range of Sierra Nevada Celebration’s league. I had to have a friend from out of state bring me some and it was worth the trouble by a large margin.

Rick Lyke said...


I agree that the Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale for 2006 is quite a beer. (Check out the Tuesday Tasting from 11/28/06.) The holiday season is really a treat for beer lovers in search of great brews.