Knight of the Beer Roundtable #65 was an event several months in the making. Despite our best repeated efforts to drink Christmas beers before Christmas, the weather continued to ruin our plans. We blamed this on Baby Jesus not wanting us to drink.
So last Wednesday, when the forecast called for more bad weather, we tempted the fates and went ahead with our plans. Some of us made the trip to Matt's southside deluxe apartment in the sky, some of us stayed home.
Shiner Holiday Cheer ($8.41/6 pack, Alabama Liquor)
Very rarely (actually never) do I pick up a beer and it reminds me of a mixed drink, but this beer does exactly that. It might sound odd, but if I was craving a "girly" mixed drink, I'd grab a Shiner Holiday Cheer to satisfy that craving.
The first smell is that of peach iced tea, with a malty hint. Orange in appearance with darker amber notes, this beer confuses the drinker with a taste of white grape juice. I would compare this beer to Welch's White Grape Peach juice, with a little bit of malty, roasty, beer flavor. It's an odd combination for sure, but a very delicious one. If you have someone in your life who doesn't like hops and doesn't like most beer, they might like this.
I'd also like to point out that this would be the perfect beer for a Girl Drink Drunk party.
I give the Shiner Holiday Cheer a solid 3.0 mugs.
Mike: 1.2 Mugs Gina: 2.0 Mugs Rodney: 2.6 Mugs Matt: 2.75 Mugs
Knight of the Beer Roundtable Score: 2.31 Mugs
Stone / Nogne 0 / Jolly Pumpkin Holiday Ale ($5.00/12oz. bottle, Jungle Jim's (Cincinnati))
Wow, I've never tasted something like this before. It's as if this beer was designed to be paired with a Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner. The aroma is like roasted turkey aromatics with fresh rosemary, caraway seed, rye, sage and thyme. The surprising flavors of rosemary, sage, beef broth and oregano all mix well in this beer. Standard beer flavors, such as caramel and dark brown sugar blend these spices together into an interesting mixture.
All these things I'm saying make this beer almost sound gross. This is definitely not the case. I would never drink a pint of this beer or order it at a bar. That said, I will very readily pair a wine-sized pour of this with Thanksgiving dinner next year. This beer is adventurous, creative and interesting. I think this is a product of beer being pushed into new realms and I commend the three breweries for their accomplishment. 4.0 mugs
Mike: 3.0 Mugs Gina: 3.15 Mugs Jess: 4.0 Mugs Matt: 2.5 Mugs
KOTBR Score: 3.33 Mugs
Oaken Barrel Epiphany Tripel ($11.99/6 pack, Crown Liquors)
There have been some great things from the Southside lately (not you, Mike). Oaken Barrel's Epiphany is no exception. This beer pours golden yellow and cloudy and has a spicy aroma with banana, clove and candy sugar. The flavor is sweet and has a little alcohol punch to it, but is highly refreshing. The bottle doesn't list the ABV, but I would suspect it's fairly high. I give it 4.25 mugs.
Mike: 3.8 Mugs Jess: 4.1 Mugs Rodney: 3.9 Mugs Matt: 3.95 Mugs
KOTBR Score: 4.00 Mugs
Left Hand Snow Bound Winter Ale ($5.99/22oz, Goose the Market)
This is a darker beer, with a color that's only slightly darker than the brown of your typical beer bottle. A really thin head leaves a nice lacing on the glass. A strong ginger nose won't be a huge surprises to anyone that's had Left Hand's Juju Ginger, but for those of you who haven't had a ginger beer, it's not what you might call a typical beer element. The front is all ginger, with a hint of honey and orange, and is followed up with a creamy mouthfeel and a nice alcohol zing on the back. At 8.6% ABV, it does a nice job of providing a little warmth for a cold day. 3.3 Mugs
Gina: 3.3 Mugs Jess: 3.2 Mugs Rodney: 3.14 Mugs Matt: 3.25 Mugs
KOTBR Score: 3.23 Mugs
Mikkeller Santa's Little Helper 08 ($11.99ish/22oz, Parti-Pak Liquors)
You might recall that we named the 2007 version of this beer as our Beer of the Year. When trying out the 2008 version, we also got out a bottle of the 2007 to compare. Unfortunately, as of right now the 2008 version does not live up to its predecessor's reputation.
The 08 version: A creamy caramel nose that reminded me of Brach's Royals candy led to a front of sweet fruity gum flavors and a high alcohol presence. Hot, with earthy tobacco flavors, hints of molasses and darkest chocolate in the dry finish.
All in all, an interesting but disappointing experience. I think this is a beer that might be best drank with some age on it. If you're sitting on a bottle, keep sitting on it. It might be best drank around Christmastime next year. 3.2 Mugs
Gina: 4.3 Mugs Jess: 4.0 Mugs Rodney: 3.8 Mugs Matt: 1.75 Mugs
KOTBR Score: 3.41 Mugs
Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale ($7.99/6 pack, Crown Liquors)
We all know Sierra Nevada brews a ton of beer, and I've found their lineup to be a very solid selection of beer. Most people know their pale ale, and this really wasn't that far of a deviation from that. It has a dark amber color with good head retention, but is has the hop aroma of their standard pale ale with mostly floral hops with a touch of pine. The flavor profile is slightly malty, but the hops also have a rather soapy presence as well. This isn't a bad beer, and a decent IPA, but I don't really know what makes this a winter beer. Perhaps a California state of mind would make this beer better for me, but I was expecting more of a winter warmer than an IPA. 2.0 Mugs.
Mike: 2.2 Mugs Gina: 1.8 Mugs Jess: 1.7 Mugs Rodney: 2.4 Mugs
KOTBR Score: 2.02 Mugs
N'Ice Chouffe 2004 ($?/22oz, Parti-Pak Liquors (bought before 2005))
Every time I have a beer from Chouffe I think of the French film Amelie, but that is only because of the Gnome factor in the movie and on the bottle of every single Chouffe product. This bottle is their 10% ABV yearly winter beer. The bottle we sampled from was from 2004. A dark brown body reveals a sugar bread sweetness with a malty and nutty dominant base in the nose. As the beer warms more dark fruits and spices coming to life as well. Curucao peel, spices, clove, tart orchard fruit, and a bit of anise flavor this beer nicely with most flavors working together, but the spices are quite strong and not really restrained in a beer over four years old. The alcohol is well hidden on the mouth, but I certainly do the feel the warming alcohol after the swallow. This was a good offering from Chouffee, but make sure you have people to share a bottle of this with. This was personally my second favorite beer of the night. 4.4 Mugs.
Mike: 4.06 Mugs Gina: 4.5 Mugs Jess: 4.2 Mugs Rodney: 3.7 Mugs
KOTBR Score: 4.17 Mugs
All prices/locations approximate (from memory)