By Ken Carman
I started the 12 profiles and the Professor added some of Maria’s, but I’m afraid we all got so caught up in the season we only got 4 in. So we decided to recommend and comment on some interesting brews to try this season and at least one ghost of Christmas Past. Links will be provided to PGA articles if available…
The actual Frosted, in my opinion, is nothing more than a good, but not that interesting, brown ale platform on which to build a great barrel aged beer. Mr. Karm and his brewers do NOT disappoint. There have been several, all fascinating.
2. McGuire’s Christmas Ale is, unfortunately, somewhat a ghost of Christmas past. Yes, they still brew it, as they brew many fine beers that former head brewer, Steve Fried, never brewed. But all I have been able to try: and I’m not there every year by any means, have never come up the the simply spiced ale Mr. Fried used to brew. It’s all you would expect from the typical spices. When we were there a few weeks ago the Pensacola version, brewed by his former assistant Mike Helf, wasn’t up yet. Tom and Gary’s version in Destin was on tap but we simply didn’t care for it. It was as if someone took a Scotch 60 or 80 and added the usual spices. Problem: they didn’t mesh well in our opinion. Close to sickly sweet.
This ghost haunts me still.
3. Terrapin Pumpkinfest: while pumpkin beers are more Thanksgiving and Halloween I felt this one would work for Christmas too. A little heavy, that only makes it seem like a rich pumpkin pie. The ginger sense was a bit out of balance, but otherwise quite pleasing.
4. Delirium Noel: I can’t comment on this much, been a while. If I remember right it’s like a Christmas (spiced) version of a Tripel. Fascinating.
5. Fantome Noel: lots of spices, well balanced, deeply malty. @10% get ready for Rudolf to kick you where it will REALLY hurt the next morning.
6. Sierra Nevada’s Celebration: a long time classic, yet varies a bit every year. Often highly hopped but there’s so much there… oh, and there are apparently barrel aged versions and more now that rarely make it out here on this part of the East Coast.
7. Samichlaus: essentially “Santa” beer. I have had this high grav lager so many times it’s impossible to forget. Deeply sweet and malty almost all ale lovers dislike about lagers is gone here: so complex. Kind of the barleywine of lagers. 14%
8. Young’s Winter Warmer: it’s been so long I can’t comment, except to say I’ve never had a bad Youngs IF FRESH. That’s tough. I have noticed the exporter doesn’t seem to care much in that regard. Ask the store how long it’s been on the shelf.