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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…agreeable. Unfortunately by the end it’s taking on a cough medicine quality as there’s nothing to relieve you from treacle after treacle hit. More bonfire night than Christmas Eve, but enjoy it.
Next was Teignworthy Brewery's Christmas Cracker 6%. Well this isn’t doing a right lot. It’s flat and thin. Flat and thin. It has that appetising aroma of freshly applied white spirit to new paint. Maybe a kinder phrase would be to say that it has a strong brandy like quality that its strength probably suggests. The fact is the taste doesn’t have nearly the same impact. Even turps would have been a better surprise. It’s simply too thin and too loosely carbonated. Hang on *scrolls up* yes, just like I described the Wood’s. But much worse for it. There’s a bit of a decent hop flavour wrapped around a shortbread malt centre and a slight alcohol burn to finish. But overall, I’ve not enjoyed this.
Enjoy with: this year's X Factor winner James Arthur, because X Factor is about good marketing when Christmas number one truly matters and they wouldn't be as interesting any other time of the year.
Window 13 was a beer I was greatly looking forward to, the Gouden Carolus Christmas 10.5%. Despite being something of an institution, this is my first experience into it. Yes, I remember how good their Classic was, though it has been a few years, and have a couple of Cuvee Van de Keizer's stored away for ageing, but this is my first Christmas meet.
Wow. I mean straightaway this is a beer. It’s so thick, dark and has a prominent head that doesn’t fade into bubbles whilst watching them. It’s an incredible floral, candy like nose with… it’s parma violets. This smells exactly like parma violets. No further explanations needed. The taste is a much more complex affair. I’m getting the parma violets type taste and TIZER, the word I was looking for is TIZER. You remember Tizer? Refresh your ‘ead and all that? Tizer! But not in a derogatory way. Tizer, parma violets, yes this beer’s initial flavours wouldn’t go amidst at a 7-year-old’s birthday party, but they soon make way for more sullen characteristics. Plums, sherry, dried fruit, sherry, brandy soaked mincemeat, sherry, port wine, sherry and a final taste of Santa’s favourite sherry. This is Santa’s dream. Forget the candy canes, the mince pies and the sherry; why not have everything rolled into a single glass. Simply outstanding. This. Is. Christmas.
Enjoy with: The Nightmare Before Christmas, the best thing about this time of year.


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