Day 17. St. Nikolaus Bock Bier by Pennsylvania Brewing Co. in Pittsburgh, PA. This Winter Bock Bier (6.5% ABV) will make a believer out of anyone. It pours a deep amber with an impressive tan, dense head. The aroma is soul-warming with rich holiday spices and toasted malts. We tasted chocolate and caramel malts with hints of coffee and molasses. It finishes with the perfect amount of clean bitterness that keeps us wanting more. ‘Twas the beer before Christmas, when all through the haus, not one beer drinker was unhappy, not even the old jagoff sitting on the caach. Cheers!
Day 16. Barbarossa Dark Lager by Christian Moerlein Brewing Co. in Cincinnati, OH. This Dunkel Lager (5.1% ABV) pours a festive chestnut brown and is topped with a dense, tan head. The aroma is alluring with caramel malts and fresh bread dough. We tasted chocolate and caramel malts, toffee, and dark fruits like raisins, plums, and figs. It finishes wonderfully clean and dry, with hints of apple cider. This particular brew made it into our Advent Calendar this year because it’s one of the brews featured in this month’s Beer of the Month Club. My wonderful sister knows us too well and found the perfect Christmas present for craft beer fans like us. Every month, we will receive 12 award-winning craft beers selected by a panel of Brewmasters. Talk about a gift that keeps on giving! Cheers to wonderful sisters and to creative companies who are committed to the craft!
Day 15. Nuclear Winter by Finch’s Beer Co. in Chicago, IL. This Belgian Strong Ale (8.0% ABV) pours a smokey red and has a puffy, cloud-like head. The aroma is intriguing with hints of dark fruit esters and malty sweetness. We first tasted biscuity malts and then the dark, sweet raisins and figs revealed themselves. The addition of Fuggle hops provides the perfect bite of bitterness; which makes this one beautifully complex and balanced Strong Ale. So if a true nuclear winter came upon us, I wouldn’t worry one bit because I’ve got a stash of this brew here to keep me warm all winter long. Cheers!
Day 14. 12 Dogs of Christmas Ale by Thirsty Dog Brewing Co. in Akron, OH. This Winter Warmer (8.3% ABV) pours a husky, dark amber. It has a pale white head, which fades swiftly into a ring. The aroma is festive, bursting with ginger, nutmeg, dark fruits, and bready malts. The taste is unique and delicious. We tasted the caramel and toasted malts, followed by the rich holiday spices. Hints of honey and cinnamon dances around on our tastebuds as the brew slowly warmed up. It finishes clean, enticing us to drink more. Which we did, but in dog beers, we only had one…
Day 13. My Cousin Eddie by Hitchhiker Brewing Co. in Pittsburgh, PA. This English Brown Ale (7.5% ABV) is a festive brew indeed. It’s named after Clark Griswold’s favorite cousin, Eddie, from the legendary movie National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. This Brown Ale includes specialty malts from England and Belgium to give this beer a bold, nutty taste. Yams are added to the mash to provide rich coloring and body. A touch of holiday spices like Ginger, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Allspice, and Clove are added to each individual keg to ensure just the right amount of spice. Head Brewer Andy first made this brew in 2010 for his family’s Christmas dinner. Everyone absolutely LOVED it! He continued to brew it every year, slightly tweaking it until it was complete perfection. And that is what we have here in this glass. It pours a deep amber with orange undertones and has a caramel colored head. The aroma is beyond incredible and just so inviting. I immediately picked up on the delicate spices and toasted malts. The taste is balanced with just the right level of spice and sweetness. It’s a beaut Andy, A beaut. Cheers!
Day 12. Mocha Porter Whiskey by Wigle Whiskey in Pittsburgh, Pa. We chose to include this unique craft spirit in our Advent Calendar this year because whiskey IS distilled beer. But this statement could not ring any more true than with their most recent whim, Mocha Porter Whiskey. The distillers at Wigle Whiskey brewed a crafty Mocha Porter, just like one you would find at your favorite local brewery. Then they aged it in brand new, 15-gallon charred oak barrels for 11 months. The chocolate and caramel malts in the initial brew gave it the signature bold flavors of a Mocha Porter, like dark chocolate and smokey coffee. If you are a fan of craft beer, then this craft spirit is calling your name. It sold out in record timing, but go make friends with one of those 288 Pittsburghers who snagged a bottle at the release party and maybe (just maybe) they will share a sip of theirs. Hats off to you Wigle for another successful and incredibly inventive whiskey. Cheers to distilled beers!
Day 11. Cranberry Sauce by Hop Farm Brewing Co. in Pittsburgh, PA. This is their 4th installment of their “double” Berliner series, (previous brews were Margot, Cherry Tart, and Cherry Bomb). Pucker up because Hop Farm adds the natural souring agent lactobacillus (found on brewers grains) into the mix along with 160+ lbs of cranberries. This brew pours a light cranberry red and has a pale pink head. The aroma is spellbinding with hints of toasted malts, cranberries, and fresh citrus. Both the sweet and tart flavors of the cranberries shine through, giving this brew a fresh, complex taste. It finishes perfectly dry just like the winds on a cold winter’s day. However, this brew will keep you nice and warm with its 8.7 % (ABV). It is truly a Christmas miracle how such a tart brew can be so palatable, delicious, and inviting. Thanks, Hop Farm, for this seasonal offering and cheers to great sour beers!
Day 10. New Zealand Summer Winter Warmer by Roundabout Brewery. This malty winter warmer (6.8% ABV) is brewed with brown sugar and four flavorful types New Zealand hops. It pours an alluring rusted copper with a stark white head. The aroma is incredibly inviting with notes of earthy and citrusy hops, ground pepper, and caramel malts. The first word that came to mind after tasting this was balance. We picked up some really beautiful and intricate nuances in this brew, but they all seemed to complement one another just right. We tasted hints of toasted malts, caramel, citrus, and just a touch of bitterness. Easy drinking right here to say the least. Dyana Sloan (co-owner) is from New Zealand and when it’s winter over here, it’s summer over there. Hence the name New Zealand Summer Winter Warmer. It’s a delicious reminder to always bring a taste of home with you where ever you may go. Cheers!