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Advent Calendar Window Twenty-Four

Now that the Magi have arrived and the decorations have finally been removed, the mince pies have been forced down and the detox has begun, it’s presumably time to get writing again. It’s been an incredibly hectic festive period ever since I wrote about the joys ofwindow 21 and I’ve barely paused for breath to bring any updates.

After all that effort, endurance and exertion, my Advent Calendar limped to a sorry finish. After my last post for Window 21, work finished for the holidays and the festive joviality took over. Windows 22 and 23 never happened due to time restrictions. (They would have been Leffe Christmas and Innis and Gunn’s Winter Treacle Porter) I did, however, manage to sneak in Window 24 on the correct date, just before leaving for another evening of social drinking.

Window 24 was Mikkeller’s Santa’s Little Helper 2012 10.9%. I was rather excited about this, despite wanting to age it slightly. It may have been possible to get hold of a 2009 or 2010 version, but alas I settled for the easier (and cheaper) option available.

(Insert image here - don't know what blogspot are playing at currently.)

In truth, I really expected this to be the ultimate Christmas beer. It’s beautifully packaged, in a 750ml bottle and it's Mikkeller. I was expecting a form of super Danish Jul effort, or a take on the classic Belgian style Noel beers or even a beer so festively spiced it would make a pack of mince pies hang their pastry in shame. I expected something amazing, but Santa’s Little Helper 2012 was not.

It’s good. It’s an Imperial Stout right? I’m not sure what they’ve told you it is, but it’s an Imperial Stout. And a decent one at that. But not an excellent one. It’s also devoid of anything Christmassy. Plenty of chocolate and liquorice dominate a rather wooden, smoky underlay that covers any attempt to spice up this ale in the manner that others who’ve tasted it have suggested. I’m sucking it from the bottle, chewing it, swilling it around my tonsils and I don’t find spice in any area. This all happened a fortnight ago and my tasting notes were limited, so these are more my emotional judgements about a beer I was so looking forward to. It’s rather a flaccid end to this whole exercise. I wish I’d aged this longer and if I can get hold of another bottle I’ll be keeping it to drink at Christmas 2022. It’s just not outstanding yet.

The goal was to find and drink my ideal Christmas beer, whilst educating myself about the different varieties along the way. I’ve relished the experience even if it has been painful at times. Choosing a favourite was never, truly, my intention, but I enjoyed the Brunehart Brewery’s Abbaye de Saint Martin Cuvee de Noel above all others, as it defined my Christmas drink ideal. The Gouden Carolus Christmas and Nogne’s Underlig Jul were also superb. Shepherd Neame win the award for most pathetic effort of the season, but the British breweries in general provided all the more disappointing produce.

That brings my Christmas themed Advent Calendar to an end. And this really is the end. Though it brought me joy and entertainment, the logistics, time and patience needed for this mission are not available in December. Plus, as I found out in the week after this calendar ended, I already drink enough during the festive period that a solid twenty four days without a break prior to the event is certainly not necessary. Come November 30th 2013 my mind may have been changed but, for now, I can say that was that. I have nine Christmas themed beers remaining from this year that I never got chance to experience. I may age them for next year and see what happens. Until then, thanks for reading and Happy New Year.


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