#SippyTimeBeer Review – @HalandAls Winter and Christmas Beer Tasting 2013

Bells Winter White

Bell’s Winter White with the commemorative Hal & Al’s glass

I went to Hal & Al’s last night for their Winter and Christmas Beer Tasting. It was just what the doctor called for since the lady & I have been a bit grumpy getting prepared for Christmas. Our friends Chris & Lacey got there ahead of us. You got a punch card for the 12 beers of Christmas. At the end of the tasting, you got a special pint. Let’s delve into these four ounces of beer.

Bell’s BreweryWinter White Ale – Last year, I tried Bell’s Christmas Ale in my second Sippy Time Beer post. I also had the Winter White Ale in the fourth post. Unlike Christmas ales, Winter ales tend not to have cinnamon, nutmeg or clove. Christmas ales also don’t tend to be whites either. I’ll get more into that topic later. This beer doesn’t use any of those spices but the mixture of yeast, barley & malt do make it taste like it has a hint of clove in it. That line is a correction from the original review. This beer has a hefeweizen like quality without the wheat flavor. Availability here. Solid start.

Smuttynose Brewing CompanyWinter Ale – This beer was interesting because it was an amber ale, which isn’t used much for these style of beers. It did seem to have the normal spices in it which had a different tone to them since it was playing off the malt instead of hops. I enjoyed this beer out of New Hampshire. Availability here. Two for two.

Buckeye Lake BrewingChristmas Ale – This beer is obviously a local one that most read won’t get to try. This beer was more of a red ale with the usual spices but there was an interesting note on the beer list. This beer had graham crackers in it. I didn’t taste it unfortunately and it didn’t seem to make the beer any thicker. They also said it finished with a sweetness and it did. A little too much in my opinion.

Smuttynose Winter Ale, Buckeye Lake Christmas Ale and Southern Tier Old Man Winter (L to R)

Smuttynose Winter Ale, Buckeye Lake Christmas Ale and Southern Tier Old Man Winter (L to R)

Southern Tier Brewing CompanyOld Man Winter Ale – My third review covered Southern Tier’s other winter offering, 2xmas. This beer was more traditional than that one. The barley and hops stand out. You were supposed to sip this because of it’s high alcohol content, 7.0% which isn’t that high. I took this one down with a quickness. Availability here. Seriously, try it.

Full Pint BrewingFestivus – This beer comes out of Pittsburgh, PA. The verbiage of this beer gets the Seinfeld treatment so you don’t get much of a description and their site doesn’t even list. I think it was another amber ale though because of the heavy malt with a little more hops than normal. It was very tasty also. The distribution area is pretty limited but if you’re in this area, try it.

The Brew KettleWinter Warmer – This beer is another local offering that many people won’t be able to wrangle. From the northern city of Strongsville, OH this beer brings the usual Christmas spices of cinnamon, ginger (not as common) and honey. They also toss in some orange (not tasted much) and lemon (very much tasted). It actually helped to cut through the sweetness of the honey with the acidic taste of the lemon. I still don’t think it cut the sweetness enough. I sense a general trend of holidays beers that I don’t like.

Full Pint Festivus, Brew Kettle Winter Warmer, Thirsty Dog 12 Dogs of Christmas and Oskar Blues Yule Chub (L to R, T to B)

Full Pint Festivus, Brew Kettle Winter Warmer, Thirsty Dog 12 Dogs of Christmas and Oskar Blues Yule Chub (L to R, T to B)

Thirsty Dog Brewing Company12 Dogs of Christmas – The sweetest of the lot as noted a few weeks ago.

Oskar Blues BreweryYule Chub – This beer was a strange one because of it’s dark color. It looked like a porter or stout. Neither the description nor their website say exactly what style of beer it is. The website doesn’t even acknowledge that this beverage exists. That is probably why we were supposed to thank someone at the bar for procuring this limited edition keg. The description used orange peels and spruce tips in it and I tasted the pine flavor but not the orange. I am not a fan of of drinking spruce but the darker beer held up to it much better than a lighter style of beer. Availability here although you probably won’t be able to snag this beer in particular.

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#SippyTimeBeer Review – @21stAmendment, @Lagunitasbruwhs, @OtterCreekBeer and @ThirstyDogBeer

21stAmendment Sneak Attack Saison21st Amendment BrewerySneak Attack Saison – My lady and I went back to Altoona PA to go see Kent State play at Penn State back in September. We stayed at my parent’s place Friday & Saturday nights. After being rained on for the entire game and watching Kent State be miserable, I was ready for a beverage after a rainy forty five minute trip from State College to Altoona. Luckily my younger brother Brian had left this beer in the fridge. It must have been in there for a while since this beer is only available from January to March. Not only did I need a beer, I really loved this one. The spiciness provided by the cardamom is quite a surprise and very pleasing. The beer goes down smooth and has a nice crispness to it. I would suggest finding this beer in the upcoming months, so go to this part of their site to find out if you can Sneak Attack your taste buds.

Lagunitas Brewing CompanyLittle Sumptin’ WildJeremy tried this beer back at Oktoberfest in Charlotte so when I saw it on the menu at a bar, I decided to give it a whirl even though it is an IPA. It may have been the beer that started my long, hop heavy road to at least figuring out IPAs. Lagunitas advertises that they also put in boatloads of wheat and pale malt which might cut the edge off of the hops for me. So just like other IPAs that I have enjoyed, this one is more balanced than most that I have tried. This beer from Petaluma CA made it all of the way to the taps of a small bar in Columbus so you should be able to find it in your area, so long as it’s July-ish. Or October which is when I had it.

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