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Showing posts from December, 2012

Advent Calendar Window Twenty-One

I’ve had to do some unusual drinking in my endeavour to complete this calendar. But nothing as unusual, or as enjoyable, as Window 21’s beer. When the window was revealed to hold Brouwerij Huyghe's Delirium Christmas 10% (usually known as Delirium Noel but not in this instance) I was rather excited, but as I needed to be in work Friday morning until 12, and then was out straight after work until the early hours, it became clear that this beer would have to be consumed in working hours. Since the final Friday before Christmas is a pointless exercise, where everyone walks around the works stock taking and pretending to tidy, I figured nobody would really mind if I had this during works hours. In a moment of sheer geekery, I was greatly entertained by placing the beer around unusual work stock for photos, hence, the sheer amount of pictures. A clear amber colour, the nose was toffee apples, sweet bread and plenty of winter berries. The taste was terrific, really fusi

Advent Calendar Window Twenty

Time for the Saints to arrive. Tis their season after all… First is St Feuillien’s Cuvee deNoel 9% . I’ve had a few from this Belgian Abbey brewer this past year, including their saison for the #supsaison event. I’ve found them traditional, enjoyable, yet unremarkable so far. I’ve already prejudged this Christmas exertion early. With a volcanic head on top of millilitres of flushed liquid, this beer retains those becoming-all-too-familiar scents that we’ve basically described as mincemeat, sherry or dried fruits at least six times this Advent. It’s becoming all too predictable. As is the taste. I suggested St Feuillien are traditionalists and they’ve reinforced that theory with this beer. It is, once more, sweet bordering on saccharine, spiced without breaking out the cinnamon sticks, more sherry than ale and more caramac than caramel. It is, what I have now come to understand as, a traditional Belgian Christmas ale. It is well executed, well balanced, easy drinking despite t

Advent Calendar Windows Eighteen and Nineteen

I’m finally catching up with my posts, just as I come towards the end of this trying calendar. Window 18 is Wagtail Brewery’sJumping Jericho 5.2% . Okay, so the name is a little silly, yet I really enjoy the presentation and design of this beer. It’s probably the first Christmas beer I’ve had that actually includes a religious connotation, in name or label. I can’t say I remember much about Wagtail brewery, though I’ve heard of them , none of their beers have stuck in the memory. With a clear amber colour and plane head , there’s a decent nuttiness to the nose and a honeysuckle thought. Unfortunately, Jumping Jericho falls flat on flavour. It’s got a sweet caramelisation and spruce like beginning. But the residue is metallic, like licking the rusting bottom of an old hop kettle. When the corroded metal subsides, it’s quite a malty mess of ale that does nothing to promote the true story of Christmas. Indeed, if one of the wise men had brought this beer as a gift to Jesus, Mr C

Advent Calendar Windows Sixteen and Seventeen

Behind Window 16 was Gordon Xmas Ale 8.8% , a beer I enjoyed reading the backstory of. It claims to have started the tradition of Belgian Christmas brews when it was brewed for the Brits during World War One and they Belgians developed a taste for it. Whether or not this is true, it’s certainly a cute tale that makes me interested in trying a beer with a   century long history. I remember drinking Gordon’s Highland Scotch for the first time tears ago in Dr Okell’s (now the more famous Mr Foley’s) and stealing the Gordon’s glass to go with it. I think my old housemate then stole it from me… Anyway, enough memories. Let’s drink. A dark bronze with a lovely ruby hue, the familiarities with a Scotch ale are here with the slightly smoky wooden tones but much sweeter base. The taste matches this as a peaty flavour settles on your tongue whilst a smack of vanilla drags it down your throat. There’s that customary sherry stickiness and a decent astringency that pulls the whole mix togeth

Advent Calendar Windows Fourteen and Fifteen

This weekend was a rather frantic affair that saw me in my house, awake, for a total of around two hours, so I've fallen a little behind again. Despite big social sessions on Friday and Saturday, I did manage to sneak in the Advent Calendar beers in quickly before each event, but simply didn't have time to do the write up. So here they are.    It's an other N øgne seasonal behind Window 14 and another I’ve been looking forward to having had it stashed for many a month now. The God Jul that I had in Window 8 was good, but lacked that Christmassy edge I’d expected from this brewery. It’s lowered my expectations of the Underlig Jul 6.5%  but, as I’m drinking this whilst preparing for a night out, just a terrific beer will do right now. My enjoyment of this was almost immediately soured by its incredible liveliness which saw me lose half of the bottle to my (luckily wooden) bedroom floor. Cheers N øgne . The plus side was this meaning a lovely, sustained head th

Advent Calendar Windows Twelve and Thirteen

Tonight's blog covers Windows 12 and 13 as I was once again too engaged to have my Advent beers last night. Window 12 has the heading "Christmas Cracker" and involves two beers with that name, of the same strength, from two breweries I've no experience of prior; Wood Brewery and Teignworthy Brewery . I imagined before tonight that they were two who were simply marketing savvy and released a festive ale knowing that people like myself would snap them up, regardless who made them. Nevertheless, I'm ready to be impressed. First is Wood Brewerys' Christmas Cracker 6% . There is a sweet, sticky, syrupy scent to it. The taste represents this, with plenty of maple syrup, bonfire lollies, black jack sweets and liquorice. How many times am I going to use the word pleasant this month? Let me check my thesaurus; it’s agreeable. A little thin, a little loosely carbonated, and probably needs a slight hop kick to control those darker hits. But pleasant, I mean…ag

Advent Calendar Window Eleven

Today my workmate picked out Boggart Brewery's Christmas Rum Porter 6.6% . I picked this up at the Micro Bar in Manchester, which is of course run by Boggart brewery . They frequently have their excellent rum porter on and, though I can almost guarantee pre-tasting that this will be the same beer shoved in a bigger bottle and with the word “Christmas” stuck on top, I’m still looking forward to enjoying that beer from bottles for the first time. Big and bold, the nose is actually a tame syrupy effort missing the big alcohol impact of the rum in the original but really straining the sugar cane into the scent. The taste starts off rather weak. There isn’t that immediate impact that the original gives you with a sweet dry fruit flavour that this is missing. OK, I’ll stop comparing it to the original and judge it as a distant entity. It drinks like a typical sweet porter and I’m enjoying it enough to work through the huge 750ml bottle. But the aftertaste is so saccharine. Doubl

Advent Calendar Windows Nine and Ten

Window Nine has the heading “Names,” on the calendar. Here, I grouped three British beers with Christmas related names together to see if they would attain the stereotype ales of this sort receive. Due to timing, and liver consideration, I only had two of the proposed beers, the MIA bottle being Ridgeway’s Lump of Coal that I’ll have to have another time. It may make the blog if it’s worth commenting upon. First is Shepherd Neame’s Rudolph’s Revenge 4.0% , a beer I have such low expectations of it may have given me eternal life before I gain any enjoyment from it. For a start it’s in a clear bottle again. What is it with these guys? Open it and it smells like beer. Remember when you bought beers in supermarkets that weren’t bottle conditioned because it still tasted better than cans of lager? Remember how much of that experience was bishop’s finger or spitfire? Yep. This is the same beer. Maybe a hint of spice? Not a festive spice, more like someone left one ground chilli fla

Advent Calendar Window Eight

Right, I seem to be falling behind with these posts, but like a hungover Father Christmas with a lame reindeer ahead, I'll keep going because that's what Jesus would have wanted (probably.)     Saturday's beer, (drunk on Friday - like you never opened windows on your Advent calendar early as a child) was Nøgne Ø's  God Jul , one of the beers I was really anticipating, especially as I had no idea what to expect. Though I've enjoyed many of their beers, and their Sunturnbrew will probably be my beer of the year less something remarkable happens in the next 21 days, sometimes I feel they can be a little overhyped. Still, it's my first Norwegian Christmas beer, and mine's a 2011 version so surely it'll be great.   I was pleasantly surprised to see this pour a dark stouty brown with thick head. This has similarities with their Imperial Stout immediately to me. There's a lot of chocolate, coffee and sootiness on the nose, as well as gentle sweet

Advent Calendar Window Seven

Fairly straightforward window today for the first time thusfar. One beer and all the time in the world to drink it.   Number 7 reveals Brasserie de Silly's Enghein Noel 9% . A brewery I've only encountered in saison form presently with their Silly Saison and delicious La Cre Tonnere, the Enghein series comes from purchasing the Tennstedt Decroes Brewery in 1975 and I've not tried any yet. I bought the Enghein Noel back in the summer to secure its purchase so there's a chance I'm drinking a beer aged for at least a year before trying.   Pouring a surprising honey yellow, it's notable for its unexpected chocolate caramel fragrance with a mix of vanilla extract. It is a different form on the tongue, creating a strong toffee flavour with herby afterthoughts, like sage and coriander. But the spice is there, coming in at the last second with orange peel and cardamon. It is altogether sweet, but the mixed spice is enjoyable. The warming in the chest is the onl

Advent Calendar Window Five and Six

I think at first I was developing a great respect for people who managed these “beer a day” reviews. It certainly is an achievement and one that truly dawns on you when you try it yourself, as I am with this advent calendar. To manage it through illness and hangovers is impressive, but truly these people either don’t work or rarely socialise surely. Because that is the true obstacle. Anyhow, I am saying this as I didn’t drink a festive advent beer yesterday due to not having any time at all and it isn’t something I regret. But, in keeping with the obstacle, I’ll be drinking last night’s beer this evening, hence the combined title. Some of the windows have more than one beer behind them and yesterday was one of those occasions. As I bought two of Ridgeway Brewery’s Bad Elf range, I grouped them under a single sitting. Ridgeway seem to be an odd brewery, with no website or twitter page and who don't sell themselves on their bottle labels either. I've had a few of their b

Beer Advent Calendar Window Four

I fear people will start wondering why I started this if this continues. This is forming into a quest come vendetta against people who don’t produce exactly what I would like at Christmas. As I begun by saying though, seasonal beer mustn’t simply be regular beer in a shinier package. It mustn’t be the same old recipe with a few cinnamon sticks thrown in. Nobody wants to be the X Factor winner of the piece, thrown on television every Christmas because it was number one then even though it has no relation to talking snowmen, miracle working Jews or robins sat on post boxes. Brouwerij Huyghe’s La Mere Noel (8.5%) is probably the greatest disappointment of this increasingly crusade like calendar thus far. For the makers of Delirium to produce this is slanderous. I originally considered pairing this with the Delirium Noel (shock insight into one of the more predictable offerings behind one of these windows) to compare and contrast, but didn’t as I’m still feeling ill and could only f

Advent Calendar Window Three

I've cheated a little today. As explained one Day One , beers are chosen randonly by my workmates to save me actually having to fashion a calendar. Unfortunately today I was too ill to make it to work and still feel the worse for wear. But, in the interests of commitment and soldiering on I'm still going to have my beer, I've just chosen it myself as nobody had the chance to pick it for me. I've purposely opted for a low strength bitter I have relatively low hopes for as I don't think I'd enjoy today's offering much, whatever it were to be.   So it's Wadworth Brewery's Dray Bells 4.1% today, one of the atypical British offerings I bought for this season not exactly expecting nectar. Wadworth are a brewery I've not seen much of lately and think I've only ever tasted their 6X and Bishop's Tipple, the latter in  non-bottle conditioned form. So let's get this over with.   Pouring a pallid amber, this beer has all the scent of a

Advent Calendar Window Two

  Day Two and I'm already struggling. Honestly, how do people manage tasks like these? I found the time (just) to actually have the beer but had no time at all to write a post. So here it is a day late. I'm really struggling today and have had to take the day off work. I can't see me wanting to do day 3 later tonight, but I'll try to plough on. Anyway, Day Two produced a beer from a brewery I've had nothing from before and know very little about. It's Stroud Brwery's Ding Dong - a 4.5% Organic Porter (although the website claims it's 4.2%. A Porter that is thick and dark with a little frothy head. It smells initially of a sweet, yet weak, porter but you really have to get your nose in the glass to get a big waft of ginger and cloves. That was what I was hoping for. The taste comes at you in the same manner. An amateur could sip this and find nothing but a regular porter (I realise that sounds snobbish, let me continue) but one who tastes beer by

Advent Calendar Window 1: Bush Noel

And so advent begins and with it the season of joy, gaiety and mindless frivolity based on a religious experience very few of us still believe in… This will be my longest post in these 24 days so I can provide a small introduction. After considering various ways to make my Beer Advent Calendar a random experience, I settled on the following system. First I randomly placed my beers into a helpfully designed delivery package I received from Beer Ritz that is a 6 x 4 grid. I then drew out an empty 6 x 4 grid onto a blank piece of paper and hung it on the notice board at work. Each day a nominated colleague will place the number (date) of advent into a random square of their choice and I will then go home and drink that corresponding beer. Got it? Me neither. I explained here about how my Advent Calendar would actually feature only festive beers because of my love of Christmas. I should also mention that I have very particular tastes on what makes a Christmas beer because o