Window Three was picked by a colleague today and it's a rather odd fellow this, or at least a secretive one. I'm quite a big fan of regular Zinnebir, after having it recommended to me by a member of staff at 57 Thomas Street, Manchester (in a pre-drinking build-up to a Snoop Dogg concert in 2011 - my memory is famous.) My experience with the Brasserie de la Senne, Brussels has been sporadic moments such as this. I had their Taras Boulba first around seven years ago in my student days. I know for a fact it was purchased simply because of it's label and I doubt I as the first or last to do this. In fact, I love De La Senne's labels and this Christmas beer tonight is no different.
I only found out such a beverage as X-Mas Zinnebir existed this past few months so I have the 2013 version that I picked up at Beermoth. The translation of Zinnebir appears to be Little Bastards. This is often a reference to stray dogs in Belgium that may explain part of the canine themed beer label, that screams festive joy as much as Rage Against the Machine do. De La Senne's own website doesn't want to let you in on the secret either, giving no notes on the website to this beer, just a picture acknowledgement of its existence.. Well, I didn't ask for a backstory, I asked for a Christmas beer, and this one may have tried to take the Christ out of Christmas but it may yet be brilliant.
"Maybe they'll be an open door
Maybe the love that shone before
Will shine once more."
X-mas Zinnebir 2013 7.8% pours a lovely rufous and sienna shade with big, frothy head. The nose is delightfully complex; ruby port, Belgian yeast, chestnuts, baked plums, soy sauce and burnt oak. Initially, the taste is a little less dramatic. Soft vanilla ice cream, sherry and dried pears wrapped between a barky bite. It's a smooth, medium body that doesn't hit you with a burn until it's at the bottom of your chest, but it's a familiar, comforting warmth. It's an interesting Christmas beer and just about retains the character of one, whilst avoiding the high mulled spice road. It feels like a slightly more relaxed barley wine, or less in-your-face Christmas classic, which is hard to express when talking about a beer that's still 7.8%. But the beer has left the glass all too quickly without leaving a huge lasting impression. This was a good experience, just not an eternal one.
Purchased at Beermoth, November 2013
Enjoyed alongside a chocolate bear with a ribbon bowtie and another head of Father Christmas. Apparently, Christmas is already running out of icons...