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 beers before without realising who brewed it.
The Very Bad Elf 7.5% is the first from Window 5. It’s deliciously reminiscent of a Barley Wine. Toffee popcorn and caramac are on the nose. The taste has a lot of sweet, rum soaked dried fruits but a piny quality with a surprising hoppy finish. I saw surprising, as the label speaks of the use of fuggles hops and a 1795 recipe, yet there’s something very modern about this ale. This is a good drink and falls softly into that “winter warmer” category. Certainly a beer for the present weather season, but for the festive season? Since I criticised the excellent Bush Noel for not having a shiny bauble finish, I best not overly praise this particular in search of the perfect Christmas ale. But it’s a beer worth having either way.
Enjoy with: Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium, it's not a Christmas film but I only break it out for this season.
Next from Window 5 in the Bad Elf range is the Insanely Bad Elf 11.2%. I might as well say it; this is insane! Flat and amber, it has a great fruit wine quality in the nose, with so much dried cherry and strawberry but then a rich texture hitting you like opening a jar of mincemeat. And there’s the irony. You could soak fruit in this beer and stuff it in light pastry to make the world’s greatest mince pies. It’s too fruity, it’s (boozy) and it probably would go well with a dollop of brandy butter. In fact, rewrite that, make the butter from this too. Again, there’s comparisons in the sweet maltiness reminiscent of a barley wine and that is fine with me. Yes its strong, but it lets you know so. Showing that you can be reminded of Christmas in a glass without a kettle load of spices. Drink it.
Enjoy with: Driving Home for Christmas by Chris Rea, too good to just be a Christmas song and so soulfully soothing.
Now we come to window 6’s beer in the guise of Mikkeller’s Hoppy Lovin’ Christmas 7.8%. Here Mikkeller have presented an IPA. A typically good Mikkeller IPA. I’m really enjoying it. I’m not even going to give excessive taste notes considering it’s familiarities to others in their range. It’s certainly delicious, crisp, citrusy, hoppy; all you would expect me to say. And yes, the word ‘hoppy’ is in the title so I’m not surprised by its finish, rather just the decision. This feels like a repackaged version of one of their different ranges and we should know by now that is a pet hate of mine. It’s a 4 star beer at the wrong time of year. If you’ve purchased this, put it aside for spring.
Enjoy with: Nas' Black Republican, because it's a great song 12 months a year but has sod all to do with Christmas.