The calendar this year was in a beautiful box with cut-outs on the top that were meant to be broken open on each day. Because I wanted to share, I opened the whole box ahead of time. I think that took away some of the surprise (and fun), but it did mean I was able to hand pick beer that I thought each of my daughters would like best. Seems like a good trade.
Here's what I've opened so far:
Fuller's ESB. This was a favorite of mine from a time before craft beer was a thing, so it was fun to try it again. Taste memories reminded me why it was a favorite. Clean, rich, malty flavors abound, with that classic British flavor I associate with Burton salts.
C&A Veltins Grevensteiner. I've never had this before. It was a delicious German lager which I would have called a Belgian single in a blind taste. It had a slight taste of Brett. Very good.
Firestone Mocha Merlin (Oatmeal Stout). This was another excellent dessert stout, but not quite as good as the Dragon's Milk.
Stranger than Fiction Porter. A really excellent porter with good clean flavors. Much cleaner than the two stouts without all the adjunct flavors. Very pleasant, and the can had great artwork on it.
North Coast Brother Thelonius (Belgian Style Abbey Ale). Firstly, nice pun. This was as good an Abbey style ale as you could want. It certainly competes nicely with many I've had from Belgium. This was a real treat, and Abbey beers taste so good this time of year.
Weihenstephaner Vitus. Look at the head on this thing. I always love Weihenstephaner, and didn't know what to expect with this one. This was another German beer masquerading as a Belgian beer, again with flavors of Brett to my taste. This was truly outstanding.
Von Trapp Dunkel Lager. I've never had a Von Trapp beer that I've been thrilled with. This reminded me of the pre-craft beer dark beers put out by by AB such as Michelob Classic Dark. There is nothing wrong with it, but there is just nothing special going on with it for me. I have no idea why I took the picture with a pineapple in the background.
Foundation Ember (Red IPA). This was a delight to try with everything the name implies. It was a combination of good IPA flavors and the Belgian flavors of a Flanders red ale. It's not a style that's likely to take over the world, but quite enjoyable to drink.
Wachusett Wally (New England Style IPA). I've been disappointed with Wachusett in the past, so I was not looking forward to this one. I found myself pleasantly surprised. It is a stretch to call it New England Style, but so goes marketing. As an IPA, though, it was a good showing characteristic of the other larger producers in the area. In the past, I might have just had water if this was the only thing on tap. I've changed my mind.
I probably will have one more article just after Christmas with the rest of the box.