Merry Christmas, everyone, and a happy holiday season to all. This is one of my favorite times of the year for beer - early fall has its Octoberfest ales, spring has its (blech) pales, summer has its lagers, and the winter is time for stouts. Around Christmas, however, we get the best ale season - winter warmers come out. Generally sweet, dark ales, with all kinds of spices, warmers are perfect to stash for when your power goes out, when you shovel snow, or when you need a beer, which, given Michigan winters, is just about always.
MnB's first holiday recommendation is Harpoon Brewery's Winter Warmer. This dark ale is really sweet. Overall, this has been an excellent year for Boston brewers - you may recall Sam's Octoberfest was the best it's been in years - must be the water up there this year, because the Winter Warmer is great. I hadn't really thought to try it, because their Winter Beer and seasonals were never that great, in my opinion, but my girlfriend insisted I try it, and boy, I'm glad I did. It's crisp with a clean finish, and you can really taste the cinnamon and nutmeg. I've seen it in Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Michigan in the past few days, so it should be readily available. Go snag a six-pack or find it on draft.
Moving off the beaten path a bit for Midwesterners, I've developed a fondness for 21st Amendment Brewery out of DC - they've got an IPA I like as well as an American ale and a watermelon beer. On top of that, it's in cans - and snazzy cans at that. Their winter warmer this year is called Fireside Chat, and it comes in a cool box. It sold out in DC in just over two weeks, but you can find it in specialty beer shops around the Midwest (I got some as a gift for my dad yesterday). From their site:
Like FDR’s Depression-era radio addresses, which were like a kick in the butt and a hug at the same time, our Fireside Chat is a subtle twist on the traditional seasonal brew. We begin with a rich, dark, English-style ale and then we improvise with spices until we know we have a beer worth sharing with the nation.
It's not as sweet as the Harpoon, which I'm sure a lot of people appreciate. But really, I'll drink anything with FDR on the can. You know that's good beer. As you can see, I'm a sucker for clever packaging, and in today's crowded craft beer world, a good-looking bottle or can makes all the difference.
Lastly, moving into the big-bottle imports, the seasonal Delirium, the Noel, is always worth a buy for Christmas. The pink elephant returns with a Santa hat - so you know they're not going to mess around. Brewery Huyghe's seasonal offering tastes nothing like the more well-known Tremens, but a bit more like the Nocturnum - it's quite sweet, with a very strong alcohol aftertaste. I prefer this one in a snifter, and for some reason it tastes better if you chill it in the snow. It's available in more places than the Fireside Chat, but at ten bucks a bottle, this is a gift beer. I like the Harpoon because it's 7.99/six and still delicious, but if you're a snob like me, you'll spring for the Noel once a year.
Also, does anyone have any good beer apps they'd recommend? I'm playing with a few and want something to keep track of everything I drink, because if you can't quantify everything, you know you're not living your life correctly.
Again, Merry Christmas, Michigan Faithful!