An annual tradition at Piehole & Co! Now that Great Lakes has ramped up production of Christmas Ale, they release bottles into the wild on Halloween. I was fortunate enough to find this display on All Saints’ Day – this batch is best by January 7, 2017. The beer might be a bit more honied this year, with fewer spice notes, but that variance from year to year is part of the appeal. It’s still my favorite beer and still a wonderful winter warmer.
Archived review (Dec 27, 2008): Poured as an amber-mahogany color with a nice tan head that dissipates far too quickly for my taste. But it’s very nice looking.
Smell was rather average – smelled like “beer” with a touch of orange… rather faint overtones of honey and ginger. But you have to struggle to discern them.
Taste was of ginger, honey, and orange. But again, have to struggle to discern them. Nice combo of flavors that were harmonious together though.
Mouthfeel was rather thin and the head didn’t help very much. Carbonation didn’t add pop either. Rather flat at times, but was quite smooth.
Drinkability is very high. Was able to polish off the growler within a couple of hours. Would definitely buy this again and polish another growler off again. Very easy to drink – I think the ABV is actually in the 5-6% range. Reasonably priced as well, definitely a must-drink if you have access to it.
*From the Archives – 29 Dec 2008*
Poured as a brown clear liquid with a small amount of white head that disappeared after about a minute. Doesn’t lace. At the edges of the glass, the color lightens up and becomes honey-colored.
Smell is of nutmeg and some alcohol. It’s better than most winter warmers I’ve had in the past, but nutmeg isn’t my favorite of the spices used in this brew. If you like nutmeg though, you’d bump this up a notch.
Taste is of nutmeg with a touch of cinnamon and a hint of ginger. Certainly couldn’t detect the honey that they used. The taste is somewhat boozy as well, but if you’re into that, bump this up a notch. It was almost like a nutmeg-rum-soaked cookie ball flavor, minus the cookie. And minus the rum flavors.
Mouthfeel was average. No creaminess after the head went away. It was crisp and clean though and not cloying or suffocating with spices. Solid 3.
Drinkability suffered a bit as you can taste the alcohol and it shows. I like the alcohol to be well-hidden or for the beer to be easily drunk without worrying about the heat coming from it. Maybe if the booziness goes away with age, then this would be a prime candidate for aging.
Overall, it’s a decent beer but certainly not a replacement for either Great Lakes or Barley’s Christmas Ales. The three are similiar – the thing that makes this one different is the nutmeg and the booziness of the brew. If you’re into either one of those features, then by all means go for this brew. Otherwise, it’s a solid beer but not one that I’d buy year after year.