I could continue my opinions, rants and arguments about what makes a good Christmas beer long into the night, but then aren't I drinking 24 of them this month to make a point? Still, I maintain that is idiotic to say that you "don't like Christmas beer filled with spice" when nobody is forcing you to drink it. Maybe Christmas beer doesn't like YOU!
So when is a Christmas beer not a Christmas beer but still great? The answer is when it is Window Seventeen's Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale 2012 6.8%. This is a celebration beer; a joyous brewing thanks for the first arrival of the year's fresh hop harvest in early Autumn to create a holiday ale that has been brewed longer than I've been alive. Despite being a celebration of fresh hopping, I still allowed this to wait until December, despite purchasing it in June and knowing it was bottled the previous year. Will this have any effect on the celebrations?
"Whose got a Big Red Cherry Nose ?(Santa's got a big red cherry nose)
Who laughs this way - ho ho ho? (Santa laughs this way Ho Ho Ho)
Cherry Nose, Ho Ho Ho, Special night, Beard that's white...
Must Be Santa... Must be Santa... Must be Santa.... Santa Claus!"
Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale pours deepest crimson with a big frothy head to match it's age. It smells like a strawberry trifle; soaked in fresh strawberries, sweet sugared custard and lots of sherry. The fruits dominate though with a zinginess that is befitting their wacky wording. The taste is fresh - FRESH - despite the ageing. The fruity, berry texture to those fresh hops has mellow more into a jelly soaked bonanza of English lust and Christmas cheer. The smooth mouthfeel never allows you to worry about the finish as you delve into the glass for more anyway. This is such excellent brewing that I'm scared to think what a fresh version would taste like. A review that ridicules Celebration Ale's idea of fresh hopping when I find it so delicious this long on. What a beer.
If you want to make a Christmas beer that breaks convention, make this.
Bought from Beers of Europe, June 2013