It's that time of year alright, and those great once-a-year beers with the gloriously playful names are with us once again. We've got three for tasting today, Ridgeway's "Insanely Bad Elf', Mikkeller's "From To Via" (What a name! You can actually fill in the names on a gift tag printed on the label!) and Rogue's "Santa's Private Reserve".
Ridgeway Brewing brew several Christmas elf themed beers, three of which can be purchased in a gift pack. Insanely Bad Elf is a vintage Imperial red ale, brewed every year to a festive 11.2% abv (a little excess is always permitted at Christmas, right?!) . The colour appears more burnt copper than red but what all those lovely bubbles floating throughout the body and head, shining like silver baubles in the glow of an open fire, there's no doubt this looks like Christmas in a glass. The nose is fruity and spicy, almost Belgian style and I'm guessing some Belgian yeast may have been involved. Mandarine, clementine, red apples, red berries, cloves and aniseed are all apparent and with no strong alcohol aroma, despite the high abv. The taste is a little sweet with caramel notes lingering over the spicy middle and warming finish. Full, round and satisfying, this would go great with gamey foods.
Denmark's Mikkeller Brewery have also brewed a number of different festive beers including "Hoppy Loving Christmas", "Santa's Litlle Helper", and the aforementioned "From To Via". Described on the bottle as a "Holiday Ale brewed with Spices" it is, in reality, an 8% abv strong porter, pitch black in colour with a large, fluffy tan head which leaves good lacing on the glass. The aroma is rustic and earthy, with dark chocolate, roasted coffee and chestnuts infused with cloves and pungent cardamom. The body is full and bitter with the roast notes giving way to strong nutmeg and cardamom on the finish that lasts and lasts. Definitely one for the festive spice lovers!
The sweetest of festive beers tasted today is Rogue's "Santa's Private Reserve". It''s a ruby red ale, 6% abv with aromas of strawberry, redcurrant, butterscotch and sweet toffee. Some pinous hops on the palate add a balance to the fruitiness. It's a little spicy on the finish yet remains smooth and medium bodied. Quite easy drinking is this pleasant little ale and I feel it would be the ideal accompaniment to your Christmas dessert.
We have several other Christmas themed beers in limited supply in our Malahide Road and Killbarrack Road stores so pop in before the big day and get yourself a few brews to get you in that festive mood!
Happy Christmas from McHugh's!