The Last of the Winter Beers

February 22, 2012

I just got back from Florida, where the coldest day got down to about 65 degrees. It will get up to about 75 degrees today in Texas. The force that drives the green fuse is pushing the first flowers through the Texas red dirt, and the trees are showing their first green buds. In addition to getting warmer, the days are getting longer. Naturally, my thoughts have turned to Winter Beers.

Southern Tier Old Man Winter Ale: Malty, slightly sweet, with some caramel and some spice, a gentle hoppy bitterness, and a slight mineral aftertaste that is quite nice. It clocks in at 7.7%/ABV, which is higher than your average beer, but is quite moderate in the Winter Beer Wonderland. Too many winter beers try to knock you out with spiciness and alcohol and just being MORE, but this is subtle. To the extent there are Christmas spices like nutmeg and cinnamon, they are muted and understated, and there is a touch of fruity sweetness, almost apple cider like, on the back end. Southern Tier makes several excellent beers, and this is one of them, 7/10.

Heavy Seas Category 5 Winter Storm Ale: There is a mango like sweetness to the malts in this beer, which is different, as mango is not a fruit normally associated with the short days of winter. The taste is port like, with some mild hops bitterness and some brown sugar and raisin sweetness as well. This took on some complexity as it warmed in the glass, with some toffee and hard candy flavors coming out. It is a bit on the heavy side to drink all night, but it is quite enjoyable, 7/10.

Winter Solstice Ale in the Florida Sunshine. A commentary on global warming? A statement on the essential dichotomy of human nature? Or just me being a pretentious asshole with a camera?

Anderson Valley Winter Solstice Ale: This had an interesting vanilla aroma and a cream soda flavor to it. There are apple and cherry fruity flavors as well, with very little in the way of hops bitterness. I expected a beer called WInter Solstice Ale to be on the heavy side, but this had a light mouthfeel to it. I am not sure how this can be called a winter beer, but I enjoyed it anyway, 7.5/10.

Andersonville Brewing Pale Ale

May 3, 2010

As I have pointed out before, pale ales tend be overlooked by beer dorks, mainly because they lack that extreme element that so many of us find appealing, and also because non-beer dorks can drink them without scrunching up their faces and saying “EWWWW, that is so bitter!”  This should be an indictment of beer dorks, because a good pale ale is as enjoyable as any style of beer that is out there, but beer dorks won’t care as they search out the latest barrel aged IPA fermented with Belgian yeasts and Cuban brown sugar and a hops varietal that can only be found on southern slopes in the Himalayas, and I will be leading that search, god help me.

However, as I will surely need some refreshment during that search (“I hear that ten bottles were shipped by mistake to that bodega on Central Avenue in Newark! Grab the pistol and car keys! Let’s Go!”), I could certainly do worse than the Andersonville Brewing Company’s Pale Ale.  Pale gold in color with a fluffy head, this pale ale has the most grapefruit aroma and flavor of any beer I have come across, and that includes the excellent Cross Cut Pale Ale that is brewed with grapefruit zest.  The inscription on the can claims that the brewery is solar powered.  I don’t give a shit about how green this beer is, but this dry, crisp, and refreshing pale ale is perfect for a hot and sunny day, 7/10, and if I am saving some polar bears by drinking it, that is all the better.

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