Tag Archives: Winter seasonal

Southern Tier Krampus

Southern Tier KrampusAdmittedly, I had never heard of Krampus, naughty child punisher at all until this brew from Southern Tier. Pours with the crisp, clear body you’d expect from a lager with a frothy off-white head.

Lots of interesting flavor, even if it’s tough to figure out what all is there at first. Piney hops definitely come through, along with sweet citrus and caramel. This is positively bursting with hop flavor throughout. Including in a lasting, bitter finish.

A winter lager, but with none of the cinnamon and clove of others. It’s all hops and 9% ABV.

The biggest, baddest lager I’ve had

Grade: A

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Hoppin’ Frog Frosted Frog Christmas Ale

Hoppin' Frog Frosted Frog

Hoppin’ Frog Frosted Frog

With outstanding Christmas Ales such as the offerings from Great Lakes and Thirsty Dog already coming out of Northeast Ohio, how will Hoppin’ Frog Frosted Frog stand up?

Nearly no head on this. Pours on the brown side of amber. Warm pumpkin pie spices in the aroma. Tastes of clove, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and orange peel. Enough malt that the spices don’t get too wild. Body might be a little light. As it warms, the cinnamon become the most prevalent spice, but there are enough of the others to balance. Hefty booze at 8.6% ABV

Another amazing Winter Warmer from Ohio here. Wonderful!

Grade: A

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The Brew Kettle Winter Warmer

The Brew Kettle Winter Warmer

Surprising as it might be, some of the best Winter Warmers you’ll find are from Northeast Ohio with Great Lakes Christmas Ale and Thirsty Dog 12 Dogs of Christmas. How does The Brew Kettle Winter Warmer stack up?

Color is on the darker side of amber. Aroma is more citrus and less spice than I anticipated. The taste leans on the citrus side, too. Lots of orange and even some lemon peel. Spices are noticeable in the background with cinnamon and fresh ginger. In this, the warmth comes not from the spices, but from the 8% ABV. The booze in this one will sneak up on you!

Haven’t had a Winter Warmer quite like this. Definitely citrus dominant rather than spice dominant, but it’s rather tasty.

Grade: B

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Anderson Valley Winter Solstice

Anderson Valley Winter Solstice

Anderson Valley going the pagan route here with Winter Solstice. Most of the flavors here are familiar with cinnamon and clove, but I’m also picking up some cedar, which is rather interesting. It’s more subdued than other winter warmers. Starts off with a bit of fruit before the spices kick in. Almost like a spiced apple cider.

This is good, but I wouldn’t put it on the top of my winter warmer list.

Grade: C

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Thirsty Dog 12 Dogs of Christmas

Thirsty Dog 12 Dogs of Christmas

As I’ve still got a few Christmas beers in the fridge, it’s time to move to one that is at the top of the list, Thirsty Dog 12 Dogs of Christmas.

Deep amber and filled with warm spices in the nose. The first sip is full of cinnamon, clove, ginger, and is delightfully warm. There’s even a late sweetness. Graham cracker flavors make an appearance, too. If you like spicy winter warmers, this is for you. I’ve even seen it served with a ring of cinnamon on the glass, just like salt with a margarita.

The great debate here in Ohio is Great Lakes Christmas Ale or Thirsty Dog 12 Days of Christmas. I don’t really want to decide. Both are outstanding and make anyone look forward to Christmas. You can’t go wrong with either.

Grade: A+

Thirsty Dog 12 Dogs of Christmas
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New Holland Cabin Fever

New Holland Cabin Fever

When I drink a winter brown ale, I want earthy, smokey, warm, and roasted flavors. And just enough alcohol to warm you from the inside. That’s exactly what New Holland Cabin Fever is.

The aromas don’t set you up for how complex this brew is. It starts off almost like a chocolate bock, but then the roasted and smoked malt sneak in with a touch of dark caramel. The liberal use of rye adds nice texture and flavor. The hops round out the creamy mouthfeel with a strong earthiness. And the lacing is like a coat of snow on top of a cabin deep in the woods.

I have had about 4 or 5 offerings from New Holland now. And they’ve all been delightful to outstanding.

Grade: B

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Columbus Brewing Winter Warmer

Columbus Brewing Winter Warmer

The color of Columbus Brewing Winter Warmer is rather attractive. A rich caramel hue. But the aroma is what really draws you in. Loads of ginger and cinnamon. The white head thins out rapidly, but it sticks around all the way through with fantastic lacing.

Ginger and caramel are the biggest flavors here. The cinnamon adds just a late heat followed by a bite from the hops. Tastes a bit like a graham cracker, too.

Maybe not the top tier of winter beers, but I would have no problem doing this again

Grade: B

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Breckenridge Christmas Ale

Breckenridge Christmas Ale

Rather than focusing on spices, Breckenridge Christmas Ale instead reminds you  of warm, sweet carbs.

Loads of sweet caramel and toffee followed by freshly baked dark bread fill the nose. The lacing left behind is like a dusting of snow on a mahogany cabin. The citrusy hops do eventually kick in with a bigger jolt than expected. More chocolate and a little bit of smoke as it warms.

I like this take on the style. There is a hint of cinnamon, but this is decidedly a malt-forward winter warmer. A quite tasty one

Grade: B

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Troegs Mad Elf

Troegs Mad Elf

The first this that stands out with Troegs Mad Elf is the brilliant ruby color. The nose is full of interesting flavors, too, including sour cherry, black pepper, and a hint of vinegar.

Everything seems to come together quite nicely. The sour cherries aren’t too sour. The vinegar isn’t very aggressive, the hops add a nice dryness and bitterness at the end, and the huge 11% ABV is nothing more than a pleasant warmth. The sweetness from the malt and honey provide a nice counter point to everything else going on.

A different take on the style than most winter warmers and this relies on the cherries and yeast for flavor, rather than familiar warm spices. It would have been easy to go overboard with this one, but there is no hint of medicine or bad candy, something I was afraid of with the cherries.  Definitely worth a try.

Grade: B

 

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Great Lakes Christmas Ale

 

Great Lakes Christmas Ale

Great Lakes Christmas Ale. Here in Ohio, and especially in Cleveland, Christmas Ale is a seasonal delicacy. It’s something people stock up on the moment they see it because they know it won’t last. I posted an article recently that even showed in November, Christmas Ale outsold a 24 pack of Bud Light by more than 3 times!

This is the beer that first turned me on to holiday spiced ales, which is what my current batch of home brew is. It’s elusive, you’ve got to pick it up when you see it because it likely won’t be back. Even in a craft-beer-fearing-town such as this. Of course, it is with good reason. It smells of honey and spice and pours a deep orange, almost copper. It tastes of cinnamon, ginger, allspice, with a subtle honey finish. And at 7.5% ABV, it’s holiday cheer in a bottle! Without a doubt, one of my favorite beers and I can’t wait until next holiday season for it.

And thanks to my friend Liz for both the last 6 pack of the season and the gorgeous glass!

Grade: A+

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