This will be an odd post based on certain reviews I've read recently. Prior to my first tasting of anything from Conwy Brewery I'd heard that they were producing good things. Then the Stalybridge Buffet Bar started to see a few of their ales on cask, as well as Mossley Organics getting their bottles in. With reluctant hope I tried their beers and found them rather good, especially the Celebration Ale that was part of my Halloween tasting.
Since those initial favourable reviews though, I have seen Conwy slated, not least by the rather well respected CAMRGB website. I came across their review of the Celebration Ale whilst trying it for myself and was shocked. Reading the reviews of the other Conwy beers surprised me further. Still, it was my girlfriend who picked up my bottle of Conwy's Hoppy Christmas 4.3% knowing I love Christmas themed beers and I added it to me Advent Calendar. Since then I read a CAMRGB review that tore this beer to pieces too. I started to wonder if there was some bias behind them or whether I was seeing a different side. So I tried to approach this beer imagining that it would be poor.
"If I ain't drunk then it ain't Christmas,
You know where to stick those Jingle Bells..."
Hoppy Christmas pours clear golden and frothy with a decent marmalade nose and a fresh bread undertone. It's the British definition of sharp and bitter, with a lemon rind hit over a sweet citrus base and a shortbread finish. I'd guess the bittering is plied with English hops, though I don't know for sure, but I find this a decent brew, if not yet perfected. The finish is a tad muddled but at least the tang is lasting and the brewing skills are apparent. It's certainly not a Christmas beer, similar to Mikkeller's Hoppy Lovin' Xmas and Brewdog's Hoppy Christmas, yet it's still a good brew worth picking up.
So why were Conwy disapproved of so strongly? I still don't know. This Advent Calendar blog supports the deeply spiced, mulled Christmas beers that so many bloggers seem to despise, but this beer is the anti-thesis to that ideal. Just over halfway through this calendar and I'd like to vent my frustration at those that claim not to like Christmas beer and find heavily spiced beers a sin. That's fine if that's your opinion, but similar to those I called out whilst discussing smoked beer, why would you drink a style you know you don't like? If you don't like this particular beer, why don't you stick to Double IPA's and Gozes through Winter? Nobody is forcing Christmas beers upon you. It is the most ridiculous opinion I think I've seen on social media. Yet Conwy's Hoppy Christmas isn't like those beers at all so surely you should love it. Surely....
Purchased at Mossley Organic and Fine Foods