Monday, December 23, 2013

Craft Beer Cellar Advent Beer Day 23

I've been having Anchor's Christmas Ales since before I was legal to have them. This year it is super dark. The flavors include grapefruit, a little clove, coffee, and burnt malt. It has the characteristic Anchor bitterness, and tastes a bit thin given the dark colors and full flavors.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Craft Beer Cellar Advent Beer Day 22

When I opened the package for today's Advent beer, I knew I had something unusual. When I took the first sip, I knew I had something special. The first thing I noticed was the custom bottle had no label. The cap says Trappist Westvleteren with a little 12 in a circle on the bottom. Looking it up, I find that this is Westvleteren 12 from a brewery run by Trappist monks from the Abby of Saint Sixtus of Westvleteren. They only make enough beer to keep the Abby running despite demand for this beer, which some people call "The best beer in the world."

"Best" might be a stretch, but it is very, very good. The first smell is like fudge cooking, sweet but with depth. It has a creamy mouth-feel that coats my tongue with malt, chocolate, caramel, and a bit of coffee flavor.

It turns out this beer is extremely hard to get. In 2012 Craft Beer Cellar sold out their allotment in 30 minutes. So, it feels like a great gift to get this bottle in the Advent box. I can't wait to see what the next two days will bring.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Craft Beer Cellar Advent Beer Day 21

Today is day 21 of the Craft Beer Cellar Advent box. Today is also the winter solstice. I shouldn't have been surprised to get a Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale. It is a winter warmer from Anderson Valley Brewing Company close to where my family lives in California.

Gail and I also shared the little bell-shaped goat cheese we got today from MA-France. We always find fun surprises in this cute new Lexington cheese shop. I often find fresh goat cheese to be somewhat bland, but this bell combined grass and lemon flavors in a nice young texture. I'm sad it's gone.

Back to the beer, which was full of nuance. It had a slight hoppy and yeasty aroma, unusual for this style. The bitterness was also slight, but noticeable, again unusual. It had the typical malt highlights, which gave way to caramel and a hint of nutmeg. I'm sad it's gone too.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Craft Beer Cellar Advent Beer Day 20

Tonight's Advent beer is Old Jubilation Ale from Avery Brewing. This one wasn't my favorite. It is more malt-forward than I prefer, and those malt flavors are more toasted than I prefer. They can't all match my taste.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Craft Beer Cellar Advent Beer Day 19

Today's advent beer is a new style to me. Rodenbach (the beer) is named after Rodenbach (the brewery) now owned by Palm. The beer is a sour, Flemish red style beer from Belgium. The beer lacks the normal hops characteristics, but isn't really malty either. Although, malty is probably the closest way to describe this if you haven't had this style before. I'm tasting lemons, sour cherries and a little apple. This Advent box is full of surprises and new experiences. Well done Craft Brew Cellar.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Craft Beer Cellar Advent Beer Day 18

I decided to save today's beer for a different day. It is 413 Farmhouse Ale from Big Elm Brewing. I'll report back on it when I drink it.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Craft Beer Cellar Advent Beer Day 17

Sierra Nevada was one of the first craft beer producers, and they continue to be one of the best. They have been brewing Celebration since 1981, just a year after the brewery opened.

Celebration is not the typical malty Christmas beer. Indeed it is one of the first examples of the IPA style in American craft brewing. Oddly though, the strong bitterness on the back of my tongue reminds me of a spiced beer, with flavors like mace, ginger, pepper and perhaps a little evergreen. It is a great beer to sip while sitting around the tree.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Craft Beer Cellar Advent Beer Day 16

Santa tried to steal my beer. I can't blame him for wanting this Organic Chocolate Stout from Samuel Smith. I might have guessed that Craft Beer Cellar would include a beer from Samuel Smith, but I would have guessed the Winter Welcome Ale that I gave to my daughter earlier this month.

This is the most chocolaty stout I've ever had, both in aroma and flavor. It's delicious. Turns out it is not only organic, but also vegan.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Craft Beer Cellar Advent Beer Day 15

This 2XMAS is as spicy as you can get and still be called beer. The label says "Brewed in the tradition of Swedish Glögg." Southern Tier says it has figs, orange peels, cardamom, cinnamon, clove and ginger root. The cardamom taste is strong, and I also taste black pepper and a hint of grapefruit.

This is just the kind of thing I was hoping for from Craft Beer Cellar's Advent box. I'm very glad it was included. It's interesting and expands my horizons, even though it's not the kind of beer I'd lean to regularly.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Craft Beer Cellar Advent Beer Day 14

Tonight's Advent beer is Adoration dark winter ale from Ommegang. The first thing I noticed was thick, round mouth-feel followed by an explosion of tiny bubbles on the front of my tongue. The effect makes me really enjoy sipping the beer, and savoring both the flavors and the feel. The flavor is of citrus and malt, and is just a bit sweeter than I prefer. I'm never disappointed by Ommegang.

Craft Beer Cellar Advent Beer Day 13

Look at that lovely, unopened Brooklyn Winter Ale. This is the second time I couldn't drink the Advent beer. Looks like I need a break about once a week.  Fortunately, I have all winter to get to it. Since both my daughters live in Brooklyn, I'll think of them when I drink it.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Craft Beer Cellar Advent Beer Day 12

A Belgian ale is the perfect starting point for a Christmas beer. And this Scaldis de Noël is the perfect Belgian Christmas ale. Put out by Brasserie Dubuisson, this beer takes the typical richness of a Belgian ale and turns it up a notch. It reminds me of burnt caramel and roses, and despite the intensity of sugar, it's not a bit cloying.

This is my new favorite from this Craft Beer Cellar Advent box.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Craft Beer Cellar Advent Beer Day 11

Today's Advent gift is Hoponius Union from local brewery Jack's Abby in Framingham. This is quite an unusual departure from the ordinary. It's an IPL, or Indian Pale Lager. Lagers are known for smooth, clean flavors, while the traditional IPA (as in ale) is known for kick-in-the-pants aggressiveness. The marriage lets the bitterness and hop flavors stand out more. It works well, but with a less creamy mouth feel than a typical IPA.

Thank you Craft Beer Cellar for making me a more educated beer drinker.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Craft Beer Cellar Advent Beer Day 10

Today's Craft Beer Cellar Advent beer is Hibernation Ale from Great Divide Brewing Company in Denver. From the department of overly specific recommendations (specifically, the label): "Suggested food pairings: Romano, an aged hard Dutch cow's milk cheese, grilled beef tenderloin, apple crisp with ginger ice cream." It probably would go well with ginger ice cream. It has the malty sweetness prominent in this seasonal selection so far. I initially smelled some dry hopping, but that went away half way through. This beer does have some coffee notes that I don't prefer in beer, but these made me think more of chocolate cake with a hint of coffee.

This was a good choice for a winter night of hibernating.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Craft Beer Cellar Advent Beer Day 9

Alta Gracia Coffee Porter from Wolver's Organic Brewing was today's Advent beer surprise. It had notes of coffee, burnt barley and vanilla. It seems perfectly good, but I don't have sufficient love for cold coffee flavors.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Craft Beer Cellar Advent Beer Day 8

Note the unopened bottle of Peak Organic Brewing Company's Winter Session Ale. I'll save this one to share with my newly 21 year-old daughter when she comes home for Christmas. I'll edit this post with tasting notes after that.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Craft Beer Cellar Advent Beer Day 7

Day 7's Advent beer is the best in the box so far. The horned Santa on the label hints at the intensity of Christmas spirit in this Troegs double bock, traditionally named Trogenator. The horns are to invoke billy goats, a pun on the German word for bock. At 8.2%, the alcohol levels are low for a double, but the flavor is fully as rich and chewy as to deserve the label "liquid bread" given to it by the monks who started brewing it. Trogenator is sweet but not cloying with flavors of malt and grapes.

I will be happily surprised if Craft Beer Cellar can beat this in future days.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Craft Beer Cellar Advent Beer Day 6

Day 6 of my Craft Beer Cellar Advent beer adventure was Cold Front from Ithaca Beer Company. It's a Belgian Amber Ale with all the flavors that remind me of Brussels: low hops profile, strong malty flavors and the characteristic sourness of the Belgian yeasts. This was just the dessert I was looking for.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Craft Beer Cellar Advent Beer Day 5

Today's Beer was Dogfish Head Raison D'Etre. The label reads "A deep mahogany ale brewed with Belgian beer sugars, green raisins & a sense of purpose." Honestly, "Dark Belgian ale" would have worked just fine. I can't tell the difference between Belgian sugar and German sugar, or green and purple raisins, but the beer is good.

On a side note, you can see the pepperoni slices that Santa brought me today to go with my beers. This beer went particularly well with pepperoni.

This beer is great for the season. As ever, thanks Craft Beer Cellar!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Craft Beer Cellar Advent Beer Day 4

 Bah humbug. I feel a bit the Scrooge for being disappointed by today's beer. There's really nothing wrong with it. It is the All Day IPA from Founders Brewing Company. It's a lighter IPA than I prefer, but there's nothing wrong with that. I would call it clean, refreshing and light, more like a hop-heavy Pilsner, with light flavoring, almost no aromatic hops, and heavy bittering hops.

I don't associate IPAs with the Advent season. It's more of a summer beer to me. I'm sure it's difficult for Craft Beer Cellar to find 24 Christmas beers, and this feels like an addition in the spirit of giving. It isn't possible that I will love them all.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Craft Beer Cellar Advent Beer Day 3

When I opened today's Advent beer I wondered what Global Warmer had to do with the Christmas season. After reading the back of the can (yes, good beer can come in cans now) I saw the pun with Winter Warmer. I now can't imagine how I missed that.

Sixpoint Brewery's winter offering is like a strong IPA modified to be sweeter for the season. It has a hops-heavy taste, especially in a mouthful of that big, lacy head. It also has the full bitterness of an IPA, which goes surprisingly well with the lingering sweetness.

Three days, no disappointments. Thanks again Craft Beer Cellar!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Craft Beer Cellar Advent Beer Day 2

Today's beer was Winter Oatmeal Stout from Mayflower Brewing Company in Plymouth. It was dominated with coffee flavor and lingering hints of oats and lemon. There was a creamy mouth feel from the oatmeal and large amount of residual sugar, which made for a nice Christmas treat.

This advent box is starting out nicely. Thanks Craft Beer Cellar!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

An Advent Box of Beer from Craft Beer Cellar

Happy Advent!

Our family has a tradition of creating Advent boxes. An advent box has 24 little presents to open in the days leading up to Christmas. When I saw that Craft Beer Cellar had an advent box of beer, I couldn't pass it up.

The first beer was Breckenridge Brewery's Christmas Ale. It was a really nice introduction to the box. It had a good head and color, with a low-hopped malt flavor that went well with the spice notes. The spices were notably different from the pie spices found in pumpkin spice beers. I'm guessing it is a combination of clove, and allspice, without cinnamon. I'm enjoying the last few creamy sips right now.