beer reviews

Not necessarily Christmas beer

We had written a post saying pretty much exactly what Tandleman says here. As that’s now a bit redundant, we thought instead that we’d suggest some beers which, although not necessarily Christmas themed, fit the season better than many of the bland, brown santa-bothering bitters appearing on pumps up and down the country.

1. Brooklyn Chocolate Stout (10%)
Dark, very rich and strong, this isn’t an everyday beer, and so makes a perfect Christmas indulgence.

2. Bush Noel (12%)
Our bottle had been in storage for a year or two.  Wowzers. Maple, biscuit and lots of booze.

3. Dark Star Imperial Stout (10.5%)
On tap at the Rake. Sherry, coffee, vanilla… in fact, too many beautiful overlapping flavours to list.

4. Sam Smith’s Winter Welcome (6%)
Brown, sure enough, but rich and super-fruity, with suggestions of banana and pineapple as well as the usual orangey English hop flavours.

5. Brodie’s Ho Ho Ho (5.5%)
A good example of how to do a Christmas beer — subtle spicing, beefy malt flavours and with the body of a much stronger beer.

6. Fuller’s 1845 (6.3)
London Pride doesn’t get a look in  — this powerful ale really does taste like candied orange peel and so gets all our love in December.

7. Hepworth Vintage Christmas Ale (7.5%)
Sort of a barley wine? There are flavours of candied peel and nuts balanced with veritable hop bitterness. Ages well, too.

Auditioned and rejected: Wassail by Ballard’s (tasted like it had been cut with unfermented brown sugar) and Santa’s Wobble by Hogs Head (interesting but with an unwelcome hint of vinegar).

Any other suggestions very welcome! And, as always, if you’re reviewed any of these beers and would like us to link to your review in the post, let us know.

5 replies on “Not necessarily Christmas beer”

I’ve had a couple of bottles of Hepworths Christmas vintage, and agree that its not as cloying as most barley wines that I’ve encountered.Hepworths seem to know their hops-their Prospect Organic Pale Ale has quite a tang to it, though I’ve only ever had it in bottle.
On another tack, I’ve noticed you, and other beer bloggers, refer to C-hops-surely not our venerable and beloved Wye Challengers?

Paid a very brief visit to The Rake this evening, but sadly the Dark Star Imperial Stout was done. Shame, would love to try it.

I’d spent much of the afternoon / early evening in the Royal Oak, and tried Harvey’s Christmas Ale (8.2%) for the first time. I can see why it divides opinion – it’s an extraordinary mix of sweet and sour flavours, all underpinned by that unmistakeable Harvey’s malt flavour (which, judging from the smell of the place when we visited in March, has soaked into every fibre of the brewery over the years, and the beers – in particular the Best – are all the better for it). I’m glad I tried it, but I honestly couldn’t tell you how much I actually enjoyed it.

Oh, and they had London Porter on as well. At a mildly eye-watering £3.60/pint.

Ant — thanks for the update re: London Porter. That does sound a bit steep although (market economics in action) I’d probably pay it because the beer’s so good and so hard to find.

Haven’t been to the Royal Oak in ages, now you mention it. Must make sure to pop in soon.

Was pleased to discover that the Royal Oak was open into the evening last night. I remember when it only opened until 4 on Saturdays.

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