The transition this year from our late summer into winter was a quick slide into darkness and cold. I’m not sure where the fall went, but that man Jack Frost is a ninja. I find myself these days huddled around an imperial pint glass trying to stay warm with all the winter ales that have now saturated the market and ultimately my palate. I like big beers — I find that the balance between high ABV and the malt needed to achieve that ABV are what add complexity to large beers. Then you add in the hops and other seasonal spice additives into a winter beer and you’ve potentially got one dynamic flavor profile. Beers of this magnitude often offer a swift kick when you’re not paying attention so I would suggest you periodically rise out of your chair and check for mental clarity. All of these beers that were tasted in this flight were purchased from a local QFC here in Everett.
Now on to the flight, you will notice that I didn’t provide a thumbs up or any indicator of what I thought was good, bad or the worst. I find that many people enjoy beer differently and I don’t agree to rank them. What I may find undrinkable could be another’s favorite. I’m not sure I would even qualify as an expert, but I have been brewing beer for over a decade. I’ve also consumed gallons and gallons of the stuff over the past 20 years, and it’s not all been yellow swill.
1) Abominable Winter Ale - Hop works Urban Brewery (HUB), Portland, OR
Aroma: Malty sweetness, subtle to light hop aromatics
Appearance: Ruby to light copper color. Fairly thick head that subsides to a smaller head with a longer retention.
Flavor: Well balanced grist to hops, citrus hop forward flavor, no spice additives, no astringency either
Mouthfeel: Crisp edge of holiness a bit sharp on the tongue then met with caramelization from the malt, not thick and chewy
Overall: This beer is very well balanced with a great hop profile. Perfect for these long winter nights.
2) Bifrost Winter Ale - Elysian Brewery, St Louis, MO
Aroma: Sweet caramel at first then a lingering hop aroma, not much citrus in the nose, more earthy.
Appearance: Medium golden with a tinge of copper, good head retention that is slow to subside, well carbonated.
Flavor: Caramelized malt gives way to a more piney/earthy hop profile. No astringency. Very subtle spice flavor, reminiscent of a tweak to an IPA style beer.
Mouthfeel: Supple and chewy at first then that subsides and give way to a more sharp bitterness from the hops which remains on the back of the tongue long after the swallow.
Overall: A spin on an IPA and at 8%AV surprisingly not a lot of alcohol heat.
3) Jubelale Winter Ale - Deschutes Brewery, Bend, OR
Aroma: Hint of plum and dark cherries combined with sweetness from the malt, mild hop aroma
Appearance: Dark copper color with a long head retention
Flavor: At first sweet and slightly roasty toffee followed with a hint of plum chased by a moderate happens that lingers on the palate as the beer goes down the gullet.
Mouthfeel: Well carbonated bubbles that lightly tingle the tongue. there is a suppleness to the bed followed with an acute sharpness of hop bitterness.
Overall: It has complex qualities from nose to palate that will turn those winter doldrums into a feeling of the warmth of a soothing fleece snuggly.
4) Sleigh’r Dark Double Alt Ale - Ninkasi Brewing Company, Eugene, OR
Aroma: Hope and vegetal aroma with a hint of dark cherry, residual sweetness
Appearance: Deep reddish copper color with thick long lasting head retentions. Watch out my mustache drinking friends.
Flavor: Roasted & cartelized malt with a distance hop/bitterness that wains to provide a share and rich profile.
Mouthfeel: sharpness, there is a definitive edge between he went and the bitterness.
Overall: This will warm your cockles this winter.
-Thanks for reading and always mind your P’s & Q’s (pints & quarts).