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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 flake in by accident. Aside from that it’s a Shepherd Neame, clear bottled beer, the same as every other. It still baffles me how a brewery as famous as this can so deliberately poorly execute bottled beer. This one is just an insult.
Next is Naylor’s Scrooge’s Christmas Barrel 5.9%, which has a rather appealing label so I’m not dreading it as much. This beer also suffers a similar fate of smelling like beer. There’s something a little sweeter going on in the depths but on the it has that scent that was common with Whitelock’s in Leeds as you unsuspectingly rested your elbow on the bar only to feel a sudden wet chill soak your jacket. Beer. And it tastes of beer too. Yep, this is another British seasonal attempt that should congratulate itself by being sellable simply because it’s name and label has some correlation to Christmas. Its inoffensive and acceptable, the kind of ale you’d sup in a pub you weren’t expecting much from and mutter “not bad” to a reserved audience. Forget the tasting notes, Naylor’s don’t wish you to have any yourself. It doesn’t taste of Christmas. It doesn’t taste of much. It passed the test of just being a regular beer with a yuletide name. Miles better than the Shepherd Neame though.
Enjoy with: The Only Way is Essex Christmas Special. Honestly, ANYTHING is better than that Shepherd Neame.
Window Ten is La Binchoise Speciale Noel 9%. I only had my first from this Belgium brewery earlier this year in the form of their blonde, which wasn’t mind blowing, but I like the cupid style label here and look forward to it.
Amber in the same way the Belgians seem to enjoy their Christmas specials, there’s a lot of mincemeat on the nose. I say mincemeat because my first thought was of brandy and dried fruit. So let’s just say mincemeat. The taste is really sweet, almost like cherryade initially and the high carbonation promotes that. It’s certainly fruity; again I was making a list of figs, dates, prunes, but what it really boils down to is MINCEMEAT. It’s like a highly sugared mince pie without the pastry to cut through it. It masks its strength well, making it scarily enjoyable. In fact the carbonation is a blessing as it makes you pause for breath. The Belgians would disapprove certainly of how quickly I worked through this beer. A pleasing surprise. One of my favourites so far.
Enjoy with: Father Ted Christmas Special. Because this beer being this good is as random as Ruud Guillit sitting on a shed.


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