Seasonal Accumulation

In addition to the marathon tasting done at the Holiday Ale Festival, I've been amassing a collection of winter seasonals for enjoyment at home. Deschutes Jubelale is great, as usual. Sierra Nevada Celebration is still a classic and remains one of my top ten beers. Bridgeport Ebenezer once again leaves me wanting something a little bit more, although I can't put my finger what that thing is.

I've been deeply impressed with two beers not yet listed, though. The first is Samuel Smith's Winter Welcome. I usually have very bad luck with bottles from this venerable English brewer. They're either skunky, musty, or have a distinct metallic taste. Luck was on my side this time however, and thankfully so. This is a very English beer. Lots of bready, biscuity malt combined with a velvet caramel sweetness, underpinned by subtle fruity esters. Like an ESB on steroids. Bitter, but not enough to keep it from being a little bit decadent. Probably the most balanced and quaffable winter seasonal I've had the pleasure of enjoying.

The second was Fish Brewing's Winterfish. I really like this brewery and often wonder why I don't buy more of their beer. For one, they're completely organic. I'm not much of a hippie these days, but this still scores big points with me. Secondly, they simply brew great hoppy beer. There are few quicker routes to my heart than a well-made C-hop heavy pale ale. Winterfish is one of them. It's clearly modeled after Sierra Nevada celebration, with a bracing bitterness supported by a moderate malt sweetness. Aroma and finish are all brash American hops, heavy on the grapefruit. It is absolutely imbalanced and I absolutely love it.

Beau Burke
December 13, 2008, 8:35 pm
By: Andy
I'm glad to hear about Winterfish. I had it a few years ago and thought it was great, but subsequent years the taste had suffered. I'd stopped buying it because of that, but with a positive report this year, I'll give it another shot.
Ditto on your first three though. Spot on.
December 31, 2008, 8:45 pm
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