Now, this is a seasonal brew from Colorado that is available January through March, so the one I found is about a year old now. While most mass-market beers (pilsner-style lagers like Bud, Miller or Coors) are around 5% ABV (alcohol by volume) and really only have a shelf life of 4 to 6 months, this one comes in at 6.7% ABV which is a borderline beer for aging (those over 8% are ideal for aging a year or more, while beers above 10% can be aged for many years).
Well, this time I was in for an incredible surprise! The beer pours a deep ruby-black with a full foamy, creamy tan head that is just beautiful to watch rising from the bottom of my Nonic pint glass. Truly one of the more delicious beers I’ve ever smelled, the aroma of cherries, raisins, red wine and chocolate emanate from the glass. This brew has a slick, oily mouthfeel… slightly thick with tiny bubbles of carbonation that make it somewhat creamy.
The initial taste of caramel and sweet brown sugar gives way to a milk-chocolatey middle with hints of raisin and cherries. It finishes with a lingering roasted bitterness that reminds me of coffee beans and unsweetened bakers chocolate with just a tinge of licorice.
Overall, a year of aging seems to have done this beer well. When first released, the bitter hop character of the beer is somewhat prominent, but the aging has made this brew more in balance to my palate. I highly suggest picking up a six-pack in the new year, drink one now, and stashing the remaining five bottles away in a cool, dark place (a cellar is ideal, but even the back of a closet or cabinet away from any heat source can work) until next Christmas. This is one Christmas gift well worth waiting a year for!
For more about beer glassware, check out my article “Beer Glasses… Not Beer Goggles”
“I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year
with your pockets full of money, and your cellar full of beer!”
– An English Toast