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 the strength and full bodied. It just doesn’t do anything else.
Enjoy with: Jack Frost, a festive film that doesn’t delight or disappoint. It just is.
Next is Brunehart Brewery’sAbbaye de Saint Martin Cuvee de Noel 8.5%. It’s been many years since I first had the Abbaye de Saint Martin Blonde so I’m going into this one with an open mind.
It’s got exactly the same colour as all the other Belgian beers so far, without the enormouse head, but it initially smells like vinegar whilst pouring. It’s immediately alkaline and I find myself turning my head away whilst it falls into the glass. Expecting a drainpour, I take a gulp without sticking my nose in any further. It’s delicious. It’s everything I’ve wanted since window one. It’s so terrifically (or horribly in some people’s minds) spiced, with every allspice ingredient, so much so that my Nana would happily have this on her spice rack. Suddenly a floral aroma, that parma violets sensation I’ve mentioned before, is present. But the taste is its own beast. It can’t be one of their regular brews with a mulled seasoning bag thrown in. This is beautifully balanced and perfectly thought through. It’s the kind of beer you could drink hot as a Mulled Beer, perish the thought. I actually love it. When I think Christmas beer, this is exactly what I want. By the barrel full. On the table during Christmas dinner. Replacing the sprouts.
Enjoy with: A big Christmas Carol concert, sung in the snow, by lantern light, in an old English village. Quite simply put, the quintessential Christmas scene.