Because it’s the holidays and our normal hot-headery and cold-feet ways are exchanged for smarmy cool-headedness and warm-toes, I’m going to make my internet revisitation a very one-sided review of six different holiday-themed beers. Note that I am by no means an expert when it comes to beer… unless you consider being able to drink many of them and continue to function nonviolently in a group situation… in which case I am a Guru.
I’m at least halfway through the first beer, a Sam Adams’ Winter Lager, which is exactly as I expected it. It sits at the top of the list of Bocks at www.beeradvocate.com, with an high-to-average ABV content of 5.6%. Brief histories of bock beers suggest they were brewed by holy men as a means of sustenance during fasting periods. I could see that, because after just one, the lower third of my belly is occupied by an unobtrusive warmth and the bitter-hint-of-hop interplay is already a memory. It drinks well to the bottom, and because I’m a slow drinker, I also take note of its staying power even at room temperature. The last gulp tells me this is an ideal day beer– excellent to draw from as you poke filets on the grill.
Current BAC as determined by Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself: .01% after 45 minutes of consuming.
Next in my mixer-sixer drinkercise is Sierra Nevada’s “Celebration”, billed as Fresh Hop Ale. It received high marks in just about every review and is considered a staple cold-weather beer by bros and does alike. The first swig is a slap in the face if you don’t know what to expect– and I didn’t, so… ouch. Something tells me I don’t want to let this beer lose its chill. It’s bitter and hoppy… call me crazy, but I think this brute could use a slice of orange. Or actually, I might just dump it out and pour orange juice in it instead. According to the most scathing reviewer, there’s apparently a few different fruits already in the beer, but my pallet’s not that refined, and it’s lacking in its usual hoppiness this year. WELL THEN. Celebration is in the upper-average of ABV with 6.9% of the stuff. Honestly I had to choke this stuff down before things get bad for me, so halfway through, my BAC calculator is putting me at .021% – low enough to operate machinery at the risk of getting the hiccups. Note to self, I don’t like this beer. Note to you: do not buy me this beer. Is there some unsaid rule that you’re a manlier drinker if your beer tastes the way asparagus-pee smells? If that’s the case, my chest is officially a rug after gagging my way through this.
Blue Moon “Mountain Abbey Ale”. I don’t know what it is about this beer that makes me want to play John Denver, then the Beatles, in that order, but I do– and it does. Now this is a beer I can get behind. After the war I just waged with Sierra Nevada, I’ve realized that particular beer may taste better if I stand outside naked and dunk my face in a frozen bird bath. Luckily for me, I can’t commit to that plan for lack of a bird bath within sight. Also, I’m only two beers in, so…
Right away, I know this beer is perfect for cruise-controlled imbibery. That is, when you just need something in your hand that doesn’t taste like it spent the night in a dog crate, but you’re not going HAM, either. I asked my sister in law, “Why is it that if you don’t like a beer, it’s just because you don’t understand it? How about, make the beer good?” Whiskey is an excellent parallel here. Some whiskies are better than others, but to me, exactly one-half of what makes a whiskey better is what happens after you drink it. Taste actually has not that much to do with it. I rarely drink whiskey straight up unless I’m buying shots for someone I don’t like. Maybe I’m psyching myself into that thought process, but experience always tells a good story.
But back to this Mountain Abbey Ale. There’s definitely an apples and oranges issue here (see what I did there?), but my goal isn’t to straighten everyone out on ales versus lagers. It’s to investigate the “seasonal” brews. In this case, Blue Moon is a winner so far, even without having to stand outside and self-induce hypothermia.
Abita Christmas Ale [seasonal] is a nice little throwback to my most recent stomping grounds, New Orleans. People in Louisiana probably drink this beer just to find out what Christmas tastes like. It’s decent. I can swish it around in my mouth without getting an ugly pucker, and it’s slow to warm. Call me crazy, but is there a hint of mint in this one? Maybe that’s the cooling effect in action.
We’re halfway done here and my BAC is still under .025, yet all these holiday ales have me feeling festive. Or is that actually just tipsiness? My niece accidentally bonked my camera onto the floor, at which point I froze– assessed the situation to find it intact, and after a
not very stern warning, carried on. I could see a little tear forming but her eye seemed to reabsorb it before things got too real. She’s aware that my camera is an object that only certain adults have the privilege of tampering with, so I really don’t feel too much anxiety with her or her sister near it. In fact, I wish I had a less expensive camera to let them play with.
I love you, beer.
The bird has been basted for the sixth or seventh time as I crack open Blue Moon’s brand, “Rounder: Belgian-Style Pale”. While not technically a holiday brew, (nor is the next beer, but I’m keeping that one a secret for now) it is a special collection that definitely qualifies for the season because it was there and I bought it and I’m drinking it.
Interjection: my sister just pointed out that the results of ensuing reviews may be biased toward the later beers. To that I say, “PTTHBBBBBBBB.” Of course, that could just be this amazing beer talking.
What was I saying? Writing buzzed is kind of hard, actually. How do you do it, Winkler?
Two days later, 12:29 PM
All I know is, Smithwicks is a great all-around beverage and I laughed for three hours at Grownups 2. Yes the movie is only 104 minutes long, but we rewound it several times. Thank you Selma Hayek et al.