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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 of my particular fondness for this holiday. Therefore I’ll be critiquing these beers, not only on their standalone taste, but on their function as a seasonal beer.
By annoying chance, the first beer picked out my colleagues was Bush Noel, the strongest beer of the 24 at 12%. It would be easy for me to spend this blog giving you a background of the brewery but then they can do it so much better themselves. As beer is a personal encounter sharing hobby, I would rather describe my own experiences with the beer or brewery.


The only one time in my life I have come across Bush was after my own father took a trip to Belgium in 2008/09. He returned with a bottle each of Bush Amber for my brother and I that was, as described on the bottle as, “the strongest beer in the world.” Perhaps he thought it would be pure novelty, but luckily I found an intriguing beer with a great in depth flavour. However, as much as I enjoyed the beer, I didn’t critique beer as much in those days and have not tried the beer since. So I go into this beer blind.
You’ll also notice, ironically, that I purchased a Christmas themed glass for this Advent that just happens to be the Bush Noel glass, so it is placed where it rightfully belongs.
This pours a sweet amaranth shade with a bushy foamy head. It smells very much of European beer. This may sound ambiguous, but if you presented this beer to me blindfolded and told me it was a Belgian blonde or a German dunkel I would be inclined to believe you on all accounts. There are hints of little else on the aroma.
The taste is boozy; a word I have refracted from using before. There’s a lovely Belgian yeast quality and a sweet maple syrup flavour reminiscent in some barley wines. But the residual is alcohol, though not in an unpleasant form. I am, for my part, enjoying each sip. Yet, though it has been four or five years since my taste of Bush Ambree, I am transported back to that first taste from this brewer instantly. I expected during this advent calendar to encounter repackaged beer with snowflakes in the label’s background, like a crudely marketed East 17 song, but not from an established Belgian brewer. It’s not a poor beer and eleven months out of the year the sore head come morning would have been justified. But not this season. Not for me. Great beer that fills me with little holly jolly spirit. Bush are straight on the naughty list.
Enjoy with: Love Actually and question it’s cross gendering merits. 

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