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Beer Advent Calendar Window Six - Southwold Christmas Ale

In the spirit of the season that brings us all together, Window Six on the Advent Calendar brings about a famous ongoing collaboration between two giants of the British beer world: Adnams... and Marks and Spencers

As with Adnams main line of beers, I personally find the range Adnams do for Marks and Spencers that will be considered the more "traditional" series to range from average to swamp water. However, just as with Adnams main line of beers, I personally find the range they do for Marks and Spencers that will be considered the more "craft" series to do a decent job. Sorachi Saison is probably the best beer in the "brewed for M&S" range and possibly the best beer I've had from Adnams. 

I know it is a controversy, and as a fairly large brewery complete with distillery, Adnams manage to maintain a reputable name amongst bloggers and beer personnel alike. However, even from a young drinker, who only discerned whether he liked his supermarket 4for£5 real ale bottles with the descriptor of "It's good/crap," I've never really enjoyed the very distinct yeast flavour present in Adnams beers, including their spin-off Jack Brand range.

However, I noticed in October there was a new Southwold Christmas Ale amongst the beer shelves I've been searching for. Since then, it has been repeatedly sold out in two local M&S' suggesting it is doing well for itself. Eventually I grabbed one of only three bottles left on the shelf in Marks and Spencers Sale, just in time to feature in this Advent Calendar. Credit to Adnams that they've made the Southwold brand in this supermarket almost as famous as their own brewery name. 

"It's Christmas Eve. It's the one night of the year when we all act a little nicer, we smile a little easier, we cheer a little more. For a couple of hours out of the whole year we are the people that we always hoped we would be."

Southwold Christmas Ale - brewed by Adnams for M&S 4.2% 

I have to say this is an attractive bottle and I can understand why it flies off the shelves. Although I know those light-lit barns are supposed to represent beach huts, they remind me a little of the nativity scene lit-up and that makes me feel festive. Great colour choices too. 

To the beer, that is a murky brown and swamps in your glass. The nose has that familiar Adnams flavour I don't get along with - something like Westmalle yeast mixed with dirty dishwater. The taste is as uninspiring as I sadly assumed. There's hints of Christmas cake, with a dry biscuity fruitness throughout. Lots of chocolate malt style flavours over that terrible yeasty tang. Then, popping up in your mouth every few seconds is a familiar flavour I've tried to pinpoint and can only think of wholegrain mustard. It's certainly not something I've come across in a beer before. Fruit cake and mustard - the future flavours of the experimental craft. Everything draws to a rather flavourless carbonated finish. It wasn't terrible - but it didn't taste as good as it looks. It didn't rouse any emotions or feelings. It existed and it happened and it is selling quite well for the brewery and supermarket. That is what I have to say about this beer. 

Mince Pie Pairing Rating: 4/10 - the mincemeat flavours dominate the beer, making it have less flavour rather than drawing the flavour out 

Best paired with: Santa Claus the Movie, because that's a thing that exists, right? That's sort of Okay... ish... right? 


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