Tuesday, December 20, 2016

2016 Craft Beer Cellar Advent Box: Day 19

Advent Beer Day 19:
Trifecta from Night Shift Brewing

Anna asks, "Why Trifecta." The label says it's a Belgian style pale ale with vanilla, so my best guess is it will be like a tripel. A quick look at the ABV; only 6.7% so too light to be a tripel.  I really have no idea why it's called "Trifecta." The website clears it up saying it is also made with three Trappist yeasts.

This beer was beautiful. I could taste the vanilla, but only when I concentrated on it. The flavor blended well with the traditional Belgian flavors. Although, I didn't taste any of those classical Belgian yeasty characters in this beer. That's a bit surprising given the use of three transit yeasts. It was very smooth and easy to drink. I have yet to have a bad beer from Night Shift.

2016 Craft Beer Cellar Advent Box: Day 18

Advent Beer Day 18:

This is described as brewed with juniper and piney hops. I got a hint of those flavors, but not as much as I expected. Certainly hops can have a piney character, so I was hoping for that flavor driven over the top, especially with the addition of juniper. it was a nice dark ale with IPA flavors to it, but surprisingly mild counter to my expectations. I was hoping for a "pine bomb."

Labeled as a dark IPA, without all the pine-hype, I would have loved this beer.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

2016 Craft Beer Cellar Advent Box: Day 17

Advent Beer Day 17:

The label calls this an India Style Red Ale. I'm thinking IPA hops on top of a red character beer, which is exactly what this is, and done really well. I must say, I'm a bit confused though about why this is in the Advent Box. It is a year round beer from 21st Amendment, albeit one I haven't tried. It does have a warm set of flavors like I'd hope for in a winter ale: green pepper, broccoli, cauliflower. it certainly works as a winter beer, but it doesn't evoke Christmas to me. Could it be they were triggering on "red?"

The beer has a long-lasting, lacy head, a beautiful red tint and is slightly hazy. It has a nice creamy effervesce followed by a lingering bitterness across the whole tongue. You can almost chew this one. I'm trilled to have tried this, but don't think it was an excellent fit in the box.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

2016 Craft Beer Cellar Advent Box: Day 16

Advent Beer Day 16:

I was anxious about this beer. The label says it is sour at a level of 5 out of 5.  The web suggests that this is the sour beer by which all sour beers should be judged. I'm not a sour fan.

While this still isn't my thing, it was not as scary as I was led to believe. It was sour, like a strong barleywine or like sucking on a clover stem if you've done that. It also had some other flavors that stood out, notably new oak and grapefruit with a very slight black pepper taste.

I can tell it is very good. I still don't love sours.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

2016 Craft Beer Cellar Advent Box: Day 15

Advent Beer Day 15:

As you can tell from the picture, I only had about two sips to enjoy of this beer. Fortunately, I've had it before, and I imagine I'll have it again. It is an outstanding oatmeal stout, which doesn't rely on sweet chocolate flavors to get it's point across. It drinks clean, while presenting a creamy texture. There are subtle chocolate notes along with green pepper notes like in a marzen. I wish I had a few more sips.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

2016 Craft Beer Cellar Advent Box: Day 14

Advent Beer Day 14:

It's always fun to get this year's Anchor Christmas beer. This year's seems darker than I remember. It tastes like a porter, with chocolate malt flavors, but not very chocolaty. I taste allspice and perhaps apples with a long sweet finish. A good showing this year.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

2016 Craft Beer Cellar Advent Box: Day 13

Advent Beer Day 13:
Riverwalk Storm Door Porter

First thing that hits you is a blast of chocolate, then you get a subtle vanilla flavor followed by spices like cloves and mace. Really, it's all chocolate. For those of you who have brewed, it has that flavor deep on the back of your throat that you get from the dust that is worked up when you mill chocolate malt: slightly grassy, slightly sweet, slightly burnt and chocolatey. Did I mention chocolate?

2016 Craft Beer Cellar Advent Box: Day 12

Advent Beer Day 12:
St. Bernardus Christmas Ale

A delightful selection for the box. The label always cracks me up. Look at that pillowy head (the beer, not the monk). It keeps growing after you pour it, so watch out. I tend to associate a growing head with an infection, but I didn't taste anything off in this beer. It did have the typical tangy esters of the Belgian Abby Ale style.

The beer had flavors of chocolate, peaches and cream. Yum.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

2016 Craft Beer Cellar Advent Beer Day 11

Advent Beer Day 11:
pot & kettle oatmeal porter from Trillium

This porter tastes halfway between coffee and chocolate, but not really like either one.  It has a very smooth and creamy texture and a lingering sweetness on back of the tongue, but not too sweet. A very nice selection.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

2016 Craft Beer Cellar Advent Box Day 10

Advent Beer Day 10:

One of the joys of the Advent box is that I get to try things I wouldn't normally buy. I said before that I don't gravitate toward sour beers. Except for the excellent label, I would never have picked up this beer. The label describes it as a "sour ale brewed with chestnuts, oak aged farmhouse saison." It sounds like a perfect Christmas beer.

I've had a few sour beers in this advent box, all of which I've liked ... unfortunately, except this one. I'm sure it was good, it just wasn't my thing. To me it was very bitter and astringent like chewing apple seeds with a level of sour that was more than I could appreciate. I could certainly see why some people would love this beer, but it wasn't for me.

Friday, December 9, 2016

2016 Craft Beer Cellar Advent Box: Day 9

Advent Beer Day 9:

A simple, dark German beer in a great little bottle. It was a bit under-hopped for my taste, with a tartness that lingered too long on the back of my tongue. On the plus side, it had the strong green pepper flavors I enjoy in a good marzen.

2016 Craft Beer Cellar Advent Box: Day 8

Advent Beer Day 8:

This dark brown and cloudy beer was a real treat. It had almost no head, but still sufficient effervescence for a rich mouthfeel. It is a a barleywine, but hopped enough to remove the tang I don't usually love in a barleywine. The first flavors are caramel and coffee on the back of the tongue. It is tingly on the front of the tongue with a delicious sweetness that lingers and a richness on the front of the tongue. Flavors included honey, chocolate, and burnt sugar. This was quite special.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

2016 Craft Beer Cellar Advent Box: Day 7

Advent Beer Day 7:
Rosetta cherry ale from Ommegang

The label says, "Ale aged on cherries with other natural flavors added. These sweet and fruity flavors plus the very low ABV of 5.6% made it a good dessert beer. The cherry flavors were strong, and not too sour. A nice, nighttime treat.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

2016 Craft Beer Cellar Advent Box: Day 6

Advent Beer Day 6:

A good Belgian triple with yeast sourced from Chouffe.  The yeasty esters are fun, if a bit stronger than I'm used to with other triples. I can't remember the flavors from the last time I had a Chouffe to know if it is closer to their style. The initial aroma almost put me off, like an over-sour barley wine, but the flavors were not as sour. I enjoyed it.

There is some confusing information on the internet about the ABV. Almost everywhere on-line it is listed at 6.7%. My bottle was labeled 8.5%. I wrote to the brewery. John Laffler from the brewery told me that 6.7% was listed on the initial label approval application and was later adjusted to the actual ABV of 8.5%.

Monday, December 5, 2016

2016 Craft Beer Cellar Advent Box: Day 5

Advent Beer Day 5:
Rothaus Pils Tannenzapfle

This is a nice little pilsner in a really cute bottle. Tannenzapfle means pinecone, which I'm going to guess it the reason this bottle showed up in the box. I usually find pilsners too light for my taste, and this is no exception. This pils was tasty with green pepper flavors like a light marzen.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

2016 Craft Beer Cellar Advent Beer Day 4

Advent Beer Day 4:
Hugh Malone Ale (Belgian Style IPA) from Allagash

Look at the beautiful color and head on that beer. It tastes like a mix of Duvel and a New England IPA. The yeast strains delivered the typical ester flavors found in Belgian singles that layered well with the floral bitterness of an IPA. And it had the fresh, clean flavors characteristic of Allagash. This was an excellent, unexpected pick for the box.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

2016 Craft Beer Cellar Advent Box Day 3

Advent Beer Day 3:

A perennial Christmas favorite much like the Anchor Christmas Ale. I've been very happy with Sierra Nevada's recent collaborations. I was looking forward to this beer being a standout in the advent box. It was a good beer, but not as good as I remember from years past.

Friday, December 2, 2016

2016 Craft Beer Cellar Advent Box Day 2

Advent Beer Day 2:
Arquebus Barleywine Ale from the Cambridge Brewing Company

The CBC started out as a local Cambridge brewpub. I was fortunate to work just a couple of blocks away back then. Now they are bottling up a great range of beers and selling them locally. I had a certain nostalgic feeling opening this bottle.

This is described as a dessert barleywine with honey and Semillon grapes. Semillon is the grape of Sauternes, France's decadently sweet dessert wine.

This ale is tangy with just enough sweetness to make it work. I'm not a huge fan of barleywine, but Arquebus is quite good. It's a high alcohol beer, so this bottle is great for sharing - or three nights in my case. It has burnt caramel and honey flavors, and hint of pine.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

2016 Craft Beer Cellar Advent Box

This is my fourth year getting the Craft Beer Cellar Advent box. On the first year, 2013, I kept it all to myself. That was too much beer for me. The second year, 2014, I split it three ways with my two daughters. That was too little for me and too much for them. The third year, 2015, I took the even days and split the odd days between my two daughters. This was still too much for them.

This year I'm keeping the whole thing for myself. Yes, that is still too much for me, so I'm breaking into it early and not keeping strictly to the marked days. I will start early and end late having them as they fit with our life. I haven't forgotten the girls, though. If you see them, don't tell them, but I got each of them a few special beers that I also got for me, so on those days we can all be sharing the same beer across the miles.

I had the first beer on November 12th. It was Pacificmost mango and guava gose from Wicked Weed. Gose is a beer style new to me this year. The first one I had was not good. I'll skip naming that brewer, but I was wary of this one. Gose is a sour style originating from Goslar, Germany, where it is said the local mineral water accounts for its salty character.

Although sour and salty don't sound good, this Gose was very good. The tropical fruits made the sour more of a tangy flavor, and the saltiness was much less than the bad Gose I first had. This seems like more of a summer thirst quencher than an advent box beer, but the mango and guava made me think I was getting that special orange from an old time Christmas stocking.

I'm looking forward to my next selection.