Sunday, February 12, 2012

Goose Island Christmas Ale

Christmas Ale

Brewed by:
Goose Island Beer Co.
Chicago, Illinois

American Brown Ale

6.20% ABV

Commercial Description:
Specialty Belgian malts create a deep garnet color and a truly rich old European flavor in our classic Christmas Ale. And the generous amount of crystal hops adds that extra spicy aroma to your pint, perfect for a wintry night. Our Christmas Ale brings good tidings and joy to each Holiday Season. A two-time Gold Medal Winner in the World Beer Championships.

General Pricing:
12 oz bottles: ~$11.00 6 pack, ~$35.00 case

This beer was in this years Christmas Beer Variety case at State Line Liquors. I have never had it before and I’m really looking forward to reviewing it. So let’s see what this Christmas beer has in store for us.

The beer pours deep dark copper almost brown with orange hues and a fairly rich off white to tan head.

The nose is nice with rich caramel malt aromas with notes of toffee and an underlining sweetness. There are very interesting sharp hop aromas on the nose as well. It’s a very interesting nose with a somewhat English flair; I can’t wait to see what this taste like.

Hmm, that was an interesting first sip; sweet malts with effervescence middle and a bite on the finish. Let me attempt a better play by play.

The experience starts out with malt sweetness up front then an almost cleansing effervescence over the tongue in the middle of the sip. The back-end is fairly easy drinking with just a slight hesitation on the top of the swallow. There are some interesting malt flavors that develop at the end of the swallow into the finish. The finish is very unusual and interesting with a variety of malt flavors and a slight hop bite. I think that slight bite is what hits me as unusual. I guess it’s more unexpected than unusual. The finish also has notes of toffee, cocoa and spice.

As the beer warms I’m picking up more spice. I think these spices and hops seem to be conflicting or at least confusing me.
Well, I’m not sure I’m going to work out this conflict. This just seems to be a heavily hopped beer. It’s not bad but it’s more than I expected in a Christmas Ale. Typical Christmas beers come from the winter warmer or English traditions. They are typically very low hopped ales.

OK Back to what’s in front of us.

All and all this is a pretty good beer with a very big bite. These hops seem to be adding more of harshness and masking the malt flavors and the spices in the beer.

After accepting this beer for what it is I’m actually starting to like it. I think that it would be better with a little less hops but all and all it’s pretty enjoyable.

I’m going for a B- on this unusual Christmas Ale. It has very uniquely hopped Christmas Ale whose bite sets aside the caramel malts with toffee notes but still maintains some spice and Holiday Cheer.  

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