Thursday, December 11, 2014

A Couple of Holiday Seasonal Brews

For the December SCENE, I wrote a l-o-n-g column about the history and tradition of Christmas beers. If you’d like, you can read that HERE. Or you can pick up a physical copy at one of these places.

A pack of holiday beers are covered in that article, but as always there were a few beers that lack of space kept me from including. I thought I’d dig into a couple of those today. But first….

I want to mention that the December article will be my last for the SCENE. I’m leaving the SCENE to write for a new Oshkosh publication that will go online early next year. That’s about all I can say about that at the moment, but there’ll be more coming soon. Enough of that, let’s get to the beer…

Winter Welcome by Samuel Smith’s 
I first tried Winter Welcome in the early-1990s and at that time, it seemed like such a big, hearty thing. But in a beer world where 10% ABV ales have become commonplace, this 6% winter seasonal now seems almost quaint. Yet it still holds it’s own. Winter Welcome a true English ale, with all the fruity esters and caramel-malt notes that come to mind when you think of pub ale. It’s a mahogany colored beer with a thin, lingering head and a distinct cherry note in the aroma. The mouthfeel is creamy, the carbonation low. The beer glides over the tongue giving subtle flavors of molasses, plum and toffee. There’s a smooth bittering in the finish that’s almost wine-like in its expression. This isn’t a kick out the jams sort of beer, it’s a well-made ale that doesn’t need to beat you down to make its point. Ski’s Meat Market is selling 4-packs of Winter Welcome for $11.99.

Vixen’s Vanilla Cream Ale by Fox River Brewing
Here’s another beer I’ve been drinking for years, but this year’s version of Fox River’s traditional holiday brew is the best I can recall. I’m not a big fan of vanilla in beer, but this one works for me. Vixen’s Vanilla is a golden, semi-strong ale that comes in at 5.9% ABV. It’s spiced with Madagascar vanilla that immediately presents itself in the aroma. But on the draw that vanilla note merges with the beer’s orange zest spicing to creating a delicious, creamsicle-like flavor. The hops are virtually non-existent, but the beer finishes dry enough to keep its dessert-like sweetness in-check. This is the only time I’ve ever had a beer with vanilla in it, where I’ve craved a second glass. You can grab a glass or growler of Vixen’s Vanilla Cream Ale at Fratellos in Oshkosh.

No comments:

Post a Comment