Tonight was a sensory doozy. Four delicious holiday beers AND four hearty, meat on your bones wines all in one house, Cork & Bottle. If you couldn't find what you liked tonight, well... you just weren't trying hard enough....
Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale: ABV: 6.8%
This is a hopiday holiday beer from the Sierra Nevada folks. Think opposite from the Anchor Christmas, the other big American craft Christmas Ale of the season. The hops for Celebration are dried right after picking, to ensure the most flavor and aroma. Result? A big hop note, ESPECIALLY when compared with other holiday/Christmas brews. If I am blind-tasting this guy, I am not saying Christmas beer. There is none of the malty, sweet, mulling spice, dried fruit aromas one would expect.
Remember from my interview with Eric Jensen, brewmaster at PB Ale House in San Diego, it's one of his favorites this time of year. Why? Because he feels it is a great, balanced hop-centric beer. And if you are a hop-lover, than this might be your choice of holiday beer, i.e. NOT a typical Christmas brew. But this style presented in the cold, blustery season of yultide meets its critics. One customer remarked, "This beer is just a cop-out. Putting a regular hop-driven beer that could be out anytime of the year as your "Christmas Ale" is lame. Try harder." Well, I do agree on one level that I would like to see Sierra stretch their wings a little and put out a richer, more unique holiday brew. But, on the other hand, it's Sierra Nevada, and hops is what they do! And I like this beer. It is balanced, yet with vibrant and crisp citrus and grassy notes. So, charge forth SN, but when I'm itching for a warming, spicy, curl up in a blanket beer for my holidays, this one won't be it. When I need to be woken out of an egg-nog, hot toddy coma, it will be. Chances are equal for both.
Thank you Abita, I enjoyed this beer. Easy-drinking, session-type holiday beer. AND I have to say I think this beer is a major improvement over years' past with the Christmas Ale. This year's release had interesting notes of cinnamon, nutmeg, Indian spice (coriander?) and nutty aromas. I need to try this on draft and report back. Overall, I think Abita is moving in the right direction with this offering. But guys, please put more info on your website! You did it for your other brews, but petered out on the Christmas Ale. And believe me, interested beer-drinkers wanna know!
The OTHER 2 beers of the night? Stay tuned!!! Gouden Carolus and Delirium Noel on deck. GO CHRISTMAS BEER!