Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Non-Seasonal Seasonal Beers

....It's always fun to stock up the cellar prior to Christmas (I start using this excuse from about October onwards), but it's always much more of a pleasure to start cracking them open and simply enjoying yuletide drinking. Personally, I think most 'Christmas' beers are overrated, often rebadged (if you're in a pub) or simply 'house' darker beers with a few spices thrown in as an afterthought. The only British Christmas ale that I genuinely like is Bateman's Rosey Nosey, which brings a wonderful toffeeness to the table everytime. So I stay clear in general and reach for some old friends. And, before we get started, my tip to accompany Christmas pudding is....Schnieder Aventinus - everytime.

Robinson's Old Tom (8.5% abv), for me, is a bit of a Christmas tradition, and seems way more seasonal than 90% of the rubbish out there. Tons of red, jammy fruits, a slight hint of smoke and a warming alcohol touch as it slips down. Wonderful, especially with a few shards of dark chocolate.

Another big beer that feels seasonal is Ringwood's Old Thumper (5.6%abv). I'm a fan of most of Ringwood's output but OT is a big, big beer with a deep red colour, with a lot of biscuit in the body, but a sort of spice on the aftertaste that I can't quite place. I do love the stuff, though.

Finally, JW Lees' Brewer's Dark (3.5%abv)marries those roasted malt flavours that you crave this time of year, along with a nice, bready, yeasty note, but with a much more restrained abv. It is a little thin, but I think it's got enough about it flavour-wise to get away with it.

But you can't drink heavy beers all the time - when at a friends house to get some boxing day footy in, he'd bought some of Marks' 'Belgian Lager', so we got stuck into those. Brewed by Haacht, I was fearing the worst, but it came through OK - a pleasant surprise, actually. Clean, spritzy, and with a very pleasing, ever-so-slight hint of Brett on the nose, this lager was actually way more palatable than the one we put alongside it - an (entirely pointless) new 'blonde' version of a well known lager which shall remain nameless at this point. I'd probably try this again, actually - but not until the summer.


Bailey said...

Hear hear. Christmas beers don't have to have Santa on the label.

John Clarke said...

Do try and seek out Old Tom on draught - it is quite a revelation if you have only had the bottled version. If you manage to pop over to the National Winter Ales Festival in Manchester next month, Robinsons are having an Old Tom bard featuring the original version plus Ginger Tom and Chocolate Tom, all on draught.

Leigh said...

Thanks for the tip, John, i am heading over to the fest ,actually, so will keep an eye out.