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All through the month of December, up to Christmas Eve, we will be doing a quick review of a seasonal beer for our own enjoyment. You might like them, too. Or maybe we can provide a quick guide to the winter or holiday beers that you haven’t tried yet.

You can see all of the Decembeer 2018 list here.

All Mixed Up Together Deschutes Jubelale

Winter beers follow a general trend. They focus on dark flavors: coffee, chocolate, dried fruit, spices like cinnamon and cloves. They are usually warming and filling with higher alcohol and residual sugars, and less refreshing and crisp. These flavors are often manifested in imperial stouts, big IPAs or double IPAs, Belgian strong ales, or variations of British-style winter warmers. Sometimes examples are barrel-aged or spiced to add to the ‘specialness’ of the offer. And really, who’s complaining?

Put a few of these classic winter beer flavors together, we get very amazing results. Try them all at the same time and we get Deschutes Jubelale. I don’t know what the folks from Bend are after, but the result is a beer that smell Belgian and ends horribly wrong.

Jubelale pours a deep, dark mahogany with wispy white foam. Tantalizing whiffs of plums and cherries rise from the glass. It smells like a great Belgian quad. It tastes like something else. Sure, the dark fruit – plums and cherries – are there, but those flavors are quickly beaten down by a burnt coffee roastiness the ends in a bitter confusion of styles and flavors.

I wasn’t sure what to make of Jubelale. It’s not my favorite. It left me very confused. I like roast flavors. I like dark fruit flavors. I’m not sure that I want them together in one glass. Neither a coffee quad nor Jubelale is my mug of beer.

The post Decembeer 10: All Mixed Up Together appeared first on KC Beer Scouts.

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All through the month of December, up to Christmas Eve, we will be doing a quick review of a seasonal beer for our own enjoyment. You might like them, too. Or maybe we can provide a quick guide to the winter or holiday beers that you haven’t tried yet.

You can see all of the Decembeer 2018 list here.

A Bright Spot in the Darkness New Belgium Accumulation White IPA

I appreciate the zags in life. When everyone flows one way, those that move against the grain to try something new or unexpected. It’s welcome, often enough, as a parade of sameness can fatigue anyone’s spirits or motivation. In the beer world, winter seasonals usually revolve around sugary heft, spices, roasty flavors, and/or alcohol. It makes sense and those traditional ales are welcome all season long. But sometimes, a beer moving in the opposite direction brightens the palate.

New Belgium Accumulation is a pretty straight forward white IPA. I expect lots of citrus aroma and flavors, like a witbier. Maybe slightly cloudy, very very pale, with a pile of white foam. And Accumulation delivers. It reeks of tangerines and citrus. The body is soft and little hollow. There isn’t much in the middle. Each sip ends with a citrusy, slightly pithy sort of bitterness. It’s perfectly good, but not amazing. If white IPAs are your thing, this is a great beer for you.

Like the glare from a white rabbit bounding across a field of new fallen snow, Accumulation is a flash of hoppy brightness through the winter months. If your tongue has tired of bourbon-barrel aged double imperial stouts, give this seasonal a go.

The post Decembeer 8: A Bright Spot in the Darkness appeared first on KC Beer Scouts.

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All through the month of December, up to Christmas Eve, we will be doing a quick review of a seasonal beer for our own enjoyment. You might like them, too. Or maybe we can provide a quick guide to the winter or holiday beers that you haven’t tried yet.

You can see all of the Decembeer 2018 list here.

A Visit from die Weihnachtsmann KC Bier Co. Winter Bock

’Twas the night before Thursday, when all through the house
the kids were just crazy, irking me and my spouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with glee,
And we’d just gotten home from buying our tree.

It took us a while to get them to bed
Because milkshakes for dinner is what they’d been fed.
We prayed that the forecast was wrong about snow,
Because tomorrow to school the children must go!

Finally, after they all fell asleep
I went to the fridge and took a quick peek.
When what to my wondering eyes did appear
But a bottle of Winter Bock from KC Bier!

I quick found a glass and popped off the lid,
Inhaled the aroma then took my first sip.
I took a deep breath, then let out a sigh.
With this beer in my hand, I will have a good night!

KC Bier Co’s Winter Bock is a lovely dopplebock that pours a dark auburn, and is clear when held up to the light. The aroma is sweet with just a hint of alcohol, like over-ripened dark fruit. The sweetness comes through on the tongue as well, but is balanced by a little bitterness from the roasted malt and some sharpness from the carbonation, which gives it a bit of tang.  The beer hints at the satisfying combination of a sweet red wine and a dark chocolate, while not really tasting of either wine or chocolate. The mouthfeel is full, because the flavor activates so many parts of the tongue, but is not thick or syrupy. The flavor is robust without being overwhelming and lingers just a moment or two while you contemplate your next sip.

While I’m sure this beer pairs well with many foods (I’m thinking hearty stews and roasts), it also works well on its own as a nightcap on a cold winter evening, paired only with holiday music, a flickering fireplace, and a cozy blanket. Coming in at just over 8% ABV, it’s enough to warm you up without knocking you over.  All around, it’s a great winter beer.

The post Decembeer 6: A Visit from die Weihnachtsmann appeared first on KC Beer Scouts.

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All through the month of December, up to Christmas Eve, we will be doing a quick review of a seasonal beer for our own enjoyment. You might like them, too. Or maybe we can provide a quick guide to the winter or holiday beers that you haven’t tried yet.

You can see all of the Decembeer 2018 list here.

OK. Christmas Can Start. Sierra Nevada Celebration

I do love Christmas. Though I also fight my children sometimes when they want to listen to their Spotify xmas list in November. I feel the month-long buildup is so overblown that I’m tired of the songs, the lights, the shopping, the you-should-be-happy cheer days before the actual day. Grumble grumble.

But I’ve had my first Celebration from Sierra Nevada in 2018. So, fine. Christmas can start.

Celebration, in all its old-school West Coast IPAness, has been an integral part of my family’s Christmas celebration for years. It’s been to more Wagner-family gatherings than my wife and most of my nieces and nephews. Shaker pints of this warming, poinsettia-red IPA is a staple in my brothers’ and my hands each year. It helps mitigate the cacophony of nearly 30 people shoved into my parents’ front room to open gifts for an afternoon.

Sierra Nevada Celebration smells of strong pine needles and faint grapefruit. It hits you with big pine hop flavor, followed by sweetish, toffee middle before running through a grove of evergreen bitterness. The warm glow of alcohol follows closely behind. It’s a throwback to the beginning of the craft beer movement. California IPAs with distinctly American hop profiles, clean fermentation, and substantial bitterness.

My bottle and glass are empty, so I’m feeling much more jolly. Ho ho ho. Bring on the carols, lights and shopping. Time for another Celebration.

The post Decembeer 5: OK, Christmas Can Start appeared first on KC Beer Scouts.

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All through the month of December, up to Christmas Eve, we will be doing a quick review of a seasonal beer for our own enjoyment. You might like them, too. Or maybe we can provide a quick guide to the winter or holiday beers that you haven’t tried yet.

You can see all of the Decembeer 2018 list here.

It Must be a Texas Thing Shiner Holiday Cheer

Shiner tries. I give them that. I genuinely like Shiner Bock. It’s not a bock. But it’s good. It reminds me of a simpler – and younger and poorer – time in my life. It used to be all the folks in Shiner, Texas brewed up. But they are trying their hand at crafty, like some other regional breweries who survived both prohibition and the corporate brewery consolidations that followed. So given that, I was not at all reluctant to pick up a bottle of Holiday Cheer for Decembeer. But, it’s almost winter and there will be dark days.

The neck label says Holiday Cheer is a Bavarian-style dark wheat beer. The back label mentions “old-world Dunkeweizen” and “peaches and roasted pecans”. Dunkelweizens, especially old-world examples, are driven by the banana and clove aroma spewed from its particular yeast strain. I don’t immediately consider peaches an appetizing partner with either bananas or cloves. And roasted pecans are totally out of left field. I guess a dunkelweizen can have some nutty aspects from the darker malts, but they are pretty subdued compared to the fruity and spicy aspects.

Maybe it’s a regional taste. Maybe there’s a Texas dessert that features peaches and pecans. My three minutes of Googling didn’t turn up an obvious answer. But I pressed on with the beer.

Holiday Cheer certainly lives up to the adjuncts. The peaches burst thru in the aroma, sweet and candy-like. The beer tries, and fails, to balance a roasted, nuttiness with sweet fruity peach flavors. If there are any esters or phenols produced by the hefeweizen yeast, they are totally upstaged in this beer. Holiday Cheer is very drinkable, not too sweet nor too nutty. But it’s all peaches and pecans, and if that’s your thing – and maybe in Texas it is a thing – this is for you. I’m not sure it is for me.

The post A Texas Thing? Decembeer 3 appeared first on KC Beer Scouts.

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All through the month of December, up to Christmas Eve, we will be doing a quick review of a seasonal beer for our own enjoyment. You might like them, too. Or maybe we can provide a quick guide to the winter or holiday beers that you haven’t tried yet.

You can see all of the Decembeer 2018 list here.

A Bloom in the Snow Free State Brewing Frost Flower

There’s a mini-trend happening within the seasonal beer world. Seasonal beers are breaking from the ‘traditional’ styles that were chained to the weather. Light, fluffy wheat and lagers we associate with summer or spring are popping up like flowers from the snow. Don’t @ me. The late fall and winter are still dominated by big, hefty barrel-aged monsters. But these brighter blooms zagging into this cold, dark weather is welcome.

One of the best examples I’ve run into so far also happens to be one of the better traditional pils-style beers available in the area. Free State Frost Flower, a Bohemian-style pils on the heavier end of the scale. Pouring a bright and brilliantly clear hay, nothing could be further from the barrel-aged motor oil stouts. The aroma is unmistakably a pils, with noble, spicy hops. The body is soft and bready and gives way to a biting continental bitterness the way great a pils should.

Frost Flower has vaulted to one of my favorite lagers, season be damned. If you need a break from the darkness, I have a beauty for you.

The post Decembeer 1: A Bloom in the Snow appeared first on KC Beer Scouts.

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