Twelve Beers of Christmas: Day 11

Schneider Weisse Adventinus Weizenbock Tap 6

While this beer doesn't have Christmas or Winter in its name, this is a classic winter wheat beer. This is such a great Christmas-season beer because this style traditionally was a seasonal beer, brewed in the cool season, up until Spring, then put away until the cool season later in the year. Plus, it perfectly fits the Christmas beer profile, full of flavor, ruby color and higher ABV. 

The Beer

The Schneider Weisse website is in Germany (there is the option for translations to English). 

...full-bodied, dark ruby-colored... warming, balanced and soft. The oldest weizdock in Bavaria - since 1907! Its powerful body in combination with its malty sweetness offers real depth - a brilliant combination, perfectly tasty. Fits well to hearty, dark roasts and sweet desserts.

Schneider Weisse Tap 6 Unser Aventinus scores a 96 points (world class) on Beer Advocate.

The Weizenbock Beer Style

The German's are proud of their language and its proper usage, so they off the correct pronunciation as ”veye-tssen-bock"

German Beer Institute states, "Comparable to the barley-based regular Bockbier (see there) a Weizenbock is the strong version of an unfiltered Weissbier or Hefeweizen. It is usually made with 60 to 70% wheat malt (German law requires that a Weizenbier, regardless of strength, be made from at least 50% wheat). The other 30 to 40% tend to be so-called Pils, Vienna or Munich malts. These are pale to amber, and sometimes slightly caramelized barley malts that give the beer a full-bodied mouthfeel, a rich and satisfying malty finish, and—depending on the barley malt's color—a more or less opaque appearance. While regular Bockbiers are lagers, Weizenbocks are all ales. They are fermented with a special yeast that gives the brew a slightly spicy, clove-like flavor." 

Beer Advocate offers a great description for this beer style. 

A more powerful Dunkel Weizen (of "bock strength"), with a pronounced estery alcohol character, perhaps some spiciness from this, and bolder and more complex malt characters of dark fruits.

All About Beer

Few beers combine so exquisitely several different stylistic profiles as does weizenbock. Bavarian hefeweizen and dunkelweizen are known primarily for their natural haze, yeasty texture and extraordinary palette of top-fermentation products. Weizenbock expresses all the banana, clove and vanilla aromas and flavors of its less formidable brethren. These are tempered by a firm background of malt.

TAP6 Unser Aventinus is brewed in Kelheim, Bavaria, part of the Schneider Weisse portfolio. Its has the claim as Germany’s original “wheat doppelbock.” The foggy mahogany hue is topped with a creamy beige head. The aroma bustles with banana, raisin, chocolate, cherry and licorice. This is followed by earthy flavors and dessert-like spiced banana bread, molasses and malt. 

Twelve Beers of Christmas: Day 10

Schlafly Christmas Ale

All the senses will be filled with this Christmas beer. Spices, high ABV, gorgeous mahogany color. Schlafly is Missouri's oldest and largest craft brewery, right in the heart of St Louis and beyond.

The Schlafly Tap Room first opened its doors in 1991 and proudly holds the distinction of being the first new brewpub in Missouri since Prohibition.

CHRISTMAS ALE is a warming winter ale that blends the spices of the season with sweet caramel malt.  Orange peel, juniper berries, ginger root, cardamom and cloves are added for spiciness.  We use honey in the fermentation process, which raises the ABV without producing too much heat from the alcohol content.

Many breweries produce richer, higher alcohol beers for the winter holiday season, bolder than their year-round offerings.   The inspiration for this beer came from spiced holiday beverages such as wassail and mulled wines. Around the holidays, the sweet and spicy aromas, not to mention the booze, in such libations tend to smooth the rougher edges of enjoying each other’s company and spreading goodwill.

Available: November-December

ABV:   8.0%   |   IBU:   30   

APPEARANCE: Deep copper, bright
PROCESS: Spiced with orange peel, juniper berries, ginger root, cardamom and cloves
HOPS: Magnum (PL)
GRAINS : Pale, Caramel, Munich, Chocolate, Honey
YEAST: American Ale
SRM: 30

Twelve Beers of Christmas: Day 9

The Bruery 9 Ladies Dancing

This is one of the classic Christmas-season beers that should be on every beer lovers short list. Each year has been a different day from the song —The Twelve Days of Christmas — with a beer-take on that particular verse. As stated in The Bruery’s own description, this ninth edition is based on the Italian dessert ladyfingers.

THE BRUERY 9 LADIES DANCING — This beery homage to the classic Christmas song, 12 Days of Christmas began in 2008. Then, A Partridge in a Pear Tree was just the first in the 12 Days/Years of Christmas Series. That beer has since been retired as have many others in this series. So, if you want to try this beer, first hurry, because supplies are dwendling, and also, it won't be reproduced next year... And perhaps not for another 12 years.

Here’s a pick me up for the latest verse in our Twelve Days of Christmas series. Inspired by flavors and ingredients found in tiramisu, including ladyfingers, 9 Ladies Dancing mimics the Italian dessert by whipping together flavor combinations and layers of its own. This includes notes of vanilla, chocolate and coffee – clearly the leading ladies in this rich, dessert-like beer.

Food Pairing: Sartori Espresso BellaVitano cheese, roast turkey with bacon-cranberry chutney, spiced parsnip and sweet potato mash. The cotillion plus one. A bite of tiramisu.

TWITTER#12BeersOfChristmas

 

 

Twelve Beers of Christmas: Day 8

Flying Dog Naughty and Nice

The first reference to this pair of yin yang beers was from 2015 Christmas season. The names make reference to your Christmas list and whether what gifts Santa will be bringing youth is year. He’s making a list, checking it twice, gonna find our who’s naughty or nice. Santa Claus… la , la, la… You know the rest.

In 2015, the Naughty beer was Belgian-Style Dark Ale brewed with cinnamon, star anise, orange peel and habanero peppers for a bold mix of heat, citrus and spice.  Any, yes, it was hot. 

For 2016, Flying Dog has come back with their Naughty as a Egg Nog Ale “with subtle sweetness and a palate full of holiday spice and bourbon, this beer can standalone as your dessert course all season long.”

The 2015 Nice was a Golden Ale that paid tribute to the Belgian brewers. It had a fruity nose and was a bit sweet and crisp. From feedback, many chose to be Nice rather than Naughty in 2015.

The 2016 Nice edition has changed directions again to quite friendly quaff, a Holiday Milk Stout.  

The beauty with of this pair is you win either way, you can be naughty and nice and enjoy the results.

Naughty

With subtle sweetness and a palate full of holiday spice and bourbon, this beer can standalone as your dessert course all season long. adding cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla beans into an ale that even Belsnickel could find enjoyment in. This 8.4% ABV treat is also a great pregame beer for any Naughty holiday activities, so let the vicious cycle continue.

ALCOHOL BY VOLUME: 8.4%

AVAILABILITY: Mid-November

HOP BITTERNESS: 25 IBU

SPECIALTY MALTS: Oats

HOPS: Perle

YEAST: Chico

Nice

Slight sweetness from the lactose follows behind a rich chocolate malt profile. Give this nicety a whirl with creamy cheeses like brie and camembert or with dark chocolate desserts.

ALCOHOL BY VOLUME: 7.3%

AVAILABILITY: Mid-November

HOP BITTERNESS: 20 IBU

SPECIALTY MALTS: Roasted Barley, Chocolate, Caramel, Oats

HOPS: Perle

YEAST: Chico

Twelve Beers of Christmas: Day 7

St Bernardus Christmas Ale

While not one of the official Trappist breweries, St Bernardus, none the less, is a great abbey-style brewery with many favorite beers in their offerings. Their famous Abt 12 is rated 98 points and the Christmas Ale is not far from it at 93 points on Beer Advocate. Like many winter seasonal beers, this is a high alcohol content at 10% ABV beer so caution is given.

Shortly after the Second World War, the Trappist Monastery St.Sixtus in Westvleteren was looking for somebody to commercialise their beer because they did not want to do that themselves anymore.

They gave a license to the cheesefactory, and Brewery St.Bernard was founded. The brew master from Westvleteren, Mathieu Szafranski (from Polish origin) became a partner in the brewery and brought along the recipes, the know-how and the St.Sixtus yeast strain.

We started selling the trappist beers under the brand names Trappist Westvleteren, St.Sixtus or even later Sixtus.

During a period of 46 years we brewed and commercialised the beers, while the monks continued to brew for themselves and for sales to 3 pubs in the neighbourhood, amongst which In De Vrede, just next to the monastery.

In 1992 the license came to an end and since then we are brewing the same beers, with the same recipes, but under a different brand name: St.Bernardus.
— St Bernardus website

ST BERNARDUS CHRISTMAS ALE is a dark seasonal brewed in the classic 'Quadrupel' style of Belgium's best Abbey Ales. (10,0 % ABV) Similar to all the beers from our brewery, it greets the drinker with the signature aroma of the St.Bernardus house yeast strain (in use since 1946!) Rivaling the complexity of the St.Bernardus Abt 12, St.Bernardus Christmas Ale offers a spicy, mint-like flavor profile exuding the tastes of warming alcohol, fermented molasses, apricots, licorice and marzipan that are highlighted by the perfect balance of brewing sugars. The perfect companion to enjoy a cold winter evening, with or without the company of your friends!

Twelve Beers of Christmas: Day 6

Dogfish Head Pennsylvania Tuxedo

While this beer has been on many of my lists, it must be included as a Christmas beer as well. The spruce flavors and aroma is nothing short of drinking in a Christmas tree.

While DFH describes it as “sessional”, at 7.5% ABV I'm not sure that qualifies by definition, but it certainly does by drinkability. Spruce in a beer may not be for everyone, but I still remember my first full drink and finishing my first bottle and thinking, “That was not enough, I want another one”. And by my definition, that does qualify as a sessionable beer.

DOGFISH HEAD PENNSYLVANIA TUXEDO — A spruce-infused pale ale, Pennsylvania Tuxedo pays homage to the flannel-suited hunters and gatherers who dwell deep in the backcountry of north-central PA. A dry yet doughy malt backbone lets the hops and spruce shine while still balancing out the bitterness, making this one an easy sipper.

Brewed in collaboration with family-run outdoor clothing company Woolrich, Pennsylvania Tuxedo is a sessionable concoction with a grassy citrus kick complemented by the resinous conifer notes of fresh green spruce tips. We went into the forests of north-central Pennsylvania and Georgetown, DE, to pick these fresh tips ourselves.

ABV: 8.5
IBU: 50
Release: November
Original Release Date: 2014
STYLE: Pale Ale

Twelve Beers of Christmas: Day 5

Sierra Nevada Celebration

While many beers associated with Winter or Christmas time are big in alcohol and spice, Celebration moves in another direction and is actually an American IPA or as the label states, “Fresh Hop Ale”.

The start of Celebration season is a festive event. We can’t start brewing until the first fresh hops have arrived, but once they have the season is officially under way! First brewed in 1981, Celebration Ale is one of the earliest examples of an American-style IPA and one of the few hop-forward holiday beers. Famous for its intense citrus and pine aromas, Celebration is bold and intense, featuring Cascade, Centennial and Chinook hops—honoring everything we have at Sierra Nevada.

FRESH HOPS are the freshest dried hops to come from the fields, typically within seven days of harvest. Over 90% of the world’s hop harvest happens between August 31 and October 31, and these hops are used throughout the calendar year. Can hops possibly be the same on November 1, one day after harvest, as they are on July 25, nearly one year after growing in the fields? The answer is no. We think of hops like dry kitchen spices—the flavor of thyme or rosemary right after the jar is opened is far more intense than it is six months later. The same can be said for hops. There are ways to control the way hops age and to reformulate and readjust as some of the aromas fade, but there’s nothing like the magic of the first bales of hops as fresh as can be.

Twelve Beers of Christmas: Day 4

Stone Enjoy By 12.25.16

Stone has served as the epitome of west coast IPAs, big, bold and very hoppy. Over the past few years, a new IPA style has gathered much of the beer drinkers imagination, commonly know as New England IPA.

The one key characteristic of this new take on IPA is that is it unfiltered—meaning you'll find yeast and other particulates flowing around in your beer. Brewers like to borrow from each other and we beer drinkers are the beneficiaries.

The Stone Enjoy By series are released a few times a year. They want the buyer/drinker to focus on the fact that IPAs, as a rule, are meant to be enjoyed as fresh as possible. Therefore, Stone puts it right on the label, Enjoy By… In this case, Christmas.

STONE BREWING ENJOY BY 12.25.16 — In most cases, skipping a step is a bad thing. Not this time. This version of Stone Enjoy By IPA omits the part where we filter out the extra yeast, hop sediment and proteins that build up in beer as a natural result of the brewing process. Though it may sound like it, this missed step was no misstep. By letting this IPA go unfiltered, its peach and tropical fruit hop flavors are amplified while its golden-hued color takes on a hazy appearance. Like its filtered counterpart, this IPA is brewed specifically NOT to last, and is shipped immediately to ensure hopheads get their hands on it as soon as possible.

Twelve Beers of Christmas: Day 3

Samuel Smith Winter Welcome Ale

Winter Warmers are traditional seasonal beer and Samuel Smith’s Winter Welcome is a classic. Beer Advocate has this to say about this beer style. 

The History of Winter Welcome

Throughout history, beer of somewhat higher alcohol and richness has been enjoyed for the winter holidays, when old friends get together to enjoy the season. Wassail, a festival to celebrate winter and the beer that goes with it, predates the Christian era. Winter Welcome is vintage-dated with a special label each year, and was first shipped to the US in 1990 - it was the first imported winter seasonal beer. Serve in a traditional Sam Smith tulip or nonik glass for the holidays.

TASTING NOTES

Taste: Honey-amber colored, creamy head of small bubbles, floral aroma and delicious caramel malt flavor with great finesse. Fine hop aroma finish and a fruity note from fermentation in open-topped stone "Yorkshire Squares."

Food Pairing: Roast goose, smoked turkey with oyster dressing, rack of lamb, candied yams, Smithfield hams, fresh pears and apples, Christmas cake. Serve in crystal tumblers, or traditional Yorkshire tulip or nonik pint glasses.

These malty sweet offerings tend to be a favorite winter seasonal. Big malt presence, both in flavor and body. The color ranges from brownish reds to nearly pitch black. Hop bitterness is generally low, leveled and balanced, but hop character can be pronounced. Alcohol warmth is not uncommon.

BeerAdvocate offers a description on this traditional seasonal beer style. Many English versions contain no spices, though some brewers of spiced winter seasonal ales will slap "Winter Warmer" on the label. Those that are spiced, tend to follow the "wassail" tradition of blending robust ales with mixed spices, before hops became the chief "spice" in beer. American varieties many have a larger presences of hops both in bitterness and flavor.

Twelve Beers of Christmas: Day 2

Anchor Christmas Ale

This is probably the most iconic Christmas beer. Really, this has been a tradition for 42 years. Each year a different beer, each year a different tree. That is TRADITION! And as a professional forester, trees have a special place in my life… as does beer of course.

2016 Anchor Christmas Ale. New tree. New recipe. Same traditions. 

A deliciously smooth winter warmer with notes of seasonal spices and a malty backbone, our 2016 Christmas Ale marks the 42nd annual release of this celebrated Anchor tradition.

It is sold only from early November to mid–January. The Ale's recipe is different every year—as is the tree on the label—but the intent with which we offer it remains the same: joy and celebration of the newness of life. Since ancient times, trees have symbolized the winter solstice when the earth, with its seasons, appears born anew. With a heavily guarded, secret recipe, Christmas Ale is a highly anticipated seasonal delight, complex and full in flavor with a velvety texture and alluring, yet subtle, spiced aroma.

The tree for 2016 is the “1,000 Mile Tree” or the lone pine found during westbound construction of the transcontinental railroad. Discovered in 1869, it was a lone pine amidst a vast and desolate landscape. The tree on this year’s label was hand-drawn by Bay Area artist James Stitt, who has been creating Anchor’s Christmas Ale labels since 1975. His charming illustration of the 1,000 Mile Tree includes a person at the top of the tree with a mug of beer, honoring an old legend that railway passengers sometimes attempted to climb the tree.

The 2016 Christmas Ale is a deep mahogany brown with a creamy, tan head and boasts aromas of fruitcake, molasses, and fresh cut wood. The beer tastes of a roasted caramel malt, with notes of spiced chocolate and nuts. And it has a rich, smooth, and velvety mouthfeel. Every year the Anchor brewers look forward to formulating a new Christmas Ale recipe and tasting the fruits of their labors. We are always excited to please beer fans with its ever-changing recipe and label. Cheers from the Anchor brewers!

Twelve Beers of Christmas: Day 1

Troegs Mad Elf

"The Twelve Days of Christmas" (Wikipedia) is an English Christmas carol that enumerates in the manner of a cumulative song a series of increasingly grand gifts given on each of the twelve days of Christmas (the twelve days after Christmas). The song, published in England in 1780 without music as a chant or rhyme, is thought to be French in origin. 

THE SET-UP

You may have seen a few of these juxapositions of the ye olde Christmas song singing out twelve days and twelve gifts of Christmas. Since beer is one of my favorite gifts to get and gift, I have been compelled to offer up my list—in of course, twelve offerings.

DAY ONE — Troegs Mad Elf

... perhaps not exactly a turtle dove but a great beer and a classic Christmas beer. Mad Elf, what more needs to be said. Another much anticipated seasonal favorite. Big flavors with Pennsylvania Honey and West Coast Cherries. Again, as with many winter seasonal beers, this one is big on ABV at 11%. Warning, if you want to enjoy this one you best buy early and be disciplined since it may not be available by Christmas quaffing comes around.

The holidays at Tröegs start with our inner Mad Elf momentarily taking over the brew deck. So blame “him” for this cheerful ruby red creation reminiscent of ripened cherries, raw honey and cocoa with notes of cinnamon, clove and allspice.

SPECIFICATIONS

ABV 11% | 15 IBU
Malt: Chocolate, Munich, Pilsner
Hops: Hallertau, Saaz
Yeast: Spicy Belgian
Color: Ruby Red