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Wednesday Food: Holiday Beer Tasting Part One

Last year, in the weeks before Christmas I offered four holiday beer/ food pairings.  This year I’ll be featuring two holiday beers every Wednesday for the next four weeks.  One will be easy to find and inexpensive; its counterpart will require a trip to a decent brew purveyor and will be costlier.  I’ve enlisted the help of two friends to add perspective and palate.  And sass.

Meet Samantha.  Samantha knows beer.  Where to get it, how it tastes, what’s in season.  She also knows when a bar is ripping you off, and when industry hype is unsubstantiated.  Stone Brewing Co. is lucky to have her.  She blogs at Hopflower.

Meet Vanessa.  One of the more refined palates I’ve encountered, when I reach for the salt and hot sauce, she picks up on nuances and dimension in something as everyday as a carrot, then ascribes the appropriate vocabulary to it.  She blogs at One Knife Kitchen.

BEER ONE– Samuel Adams Old Fezziwig.  5.9%abv

S: It smells sweet and fruity and what else… oh!  Like every other Sam Adams I’ve had.  The first sip is super carbonated before settling into a deeper viscosity, but becoming pretty flat.  It shows hop bitterness but without any hop flavor.

V: First impression is burnt sugar and the inside of my Kleen Kanteen.  Develops into bitter molasses and then feels like dry champagne, before finishing with… nothing.  I get no aftertaste.  A very carbonated beginning fell flat after a few minutes. Unseemly and derivitive not unlike a stripper who can’t afford hose and draws the seam up the back of her leg.

E: Caramel and bread at the nose and also it’s like sucking a freshly washed fork.  Body is insufficient for taste and roastedness.  Reeks of fruitcake mediocrity with a sprinkling of eight year-old McCormick’s ground ginger.  Despite these things it’s very drinkable and I would grab one at a non-beer geek Christmas party.

BEER TWO– St. Bernardus Christmas Ale. 10%abv

S: Spice and orange like the the pomanders I used to make as a kid.  At the beginning, while still cold, it has a sharp metallic taste but as it warms becomes richly boozy.  Smells like overripe bananas that you mash for banana bread.  The warming alcohol make it a great holiday beer, especially with a sweet gingerbread finish.

V: Lots of Belgian yeast provides bready notes along with mulled wine and poached pear.  Prunes and raisin remind me of dark, caramel fruits.  It’s like a great Belgian brown dressed up for Christmas.  I think it’d be amazing paired with bananas foster.

E: The head looks like a perfect root beer float.  While the cherry isn’t overwhelming it reminds me distantly of those Luden’s cherry throat drops.  I think the booze is strongly broadcast and the aftertaste is not unlike a strong Manhattan.  Foamy, full mouthfeel thinning slightly as it warms.  I’ll take another.

This time last year was Korean beef and 2 Degrees Below Winter Ale.


December 1, 2011 - Posted by | Wednesday Food


  1. My 3 favorite sassy ladies!! Pretty much the best descriptions I’ve ever read.

    Comment by Sarah | December 1, 2011

  2. Awesome descriptions. Gives me a much, much clearer picture on what’s good or not, so I can easily write these down and save for later. Are these pretty annual, so can I expect to get the whole library next year?

    Comment by Brandon (@brandonthebuck) | December 1, 2011

  3. I’m never that impressed with Sam Adams either.

    Comment by TeeTown | December 6, 2011

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