It was with no small relief that I awoke on Boxing Day knowing there was no 12 Beers of Christmas report to write up that night. As in the previous two years, the 12-day sprint was great fun, but also a guaranteed sleep-depriver. More than several nights I finally fell into bed about 3 am, convinced of the madness of my own contriving.
But the next day I was, usually, eager to dive in again and learn something about another beer I hadn’t had before, and most certainly willing to drink and share it if possible. It was also nice to know that people were reading the series and presumably mostly enjoying it. (Thanks, too, to Tom Cizauskas, Beer Geeks on TV and others for all the Twitter links; to Meg Boogity for joining in for an online tasting, and to my grandaughters for their alacrity.)
For those showing up uninitiated, the first of this year’s series begins here with Anchor Brewing’s Our Special Ale 2014. It rambled on to here, the St. Bernardus Christmas Ale, which I had on Christmas Day. There are links forwards and backward from there, and similar links at the end of each piece.
This year I’ve also listed below all 36 beers from the three years, with links, for those who want to fly right to a particular brew. I’ll say one thing about that list—there are a lot of good beers on there and a few great ones. There are no real stinkers, though that shouldn’t be a big surprise with a little pre-selection going on on my part.
I did request a few beers from brewers this year (noted in the individual articles), the most obvious being the Guinness The 1759, since I didn’t feature paying $34.99 for it. It was a lovely beer, but still! It won Most Expensive Beer honors hands down.
Mostly it was still brews found on shelves not too far from me, and there were a few extras that didn’t make the final list simply because I was looking for a little geographic diversity, not out of any preconceived ranking. These included the beers shown below from Wachusett, Magic Hat, Goose Island, Saranac, Smuttynose, Breckenridge, Anchor and repeats from Victory and Sierra Nevada.
Had the purchase of Elysian Brewing by A-B InBev been announced early in December rather than on January 23, I wonder whether I would still have included it in the list? None of the elements that made me choose it in the first place are really any different. But the company itself is no longer an independent brewery; it’s part of a corporate one, and not my favorite corporation by a long shot.
I’m not really in the ranking business, but if I trot out the same categories as last year I’d leave the Not As Good As I’d Hoped, But I’ll Have Another If Offered niche empty. I’d put the Harpoon Gingerland and 3 Sheeps Ewephoria in the Dang Good slot and all the rest in the Splendid category. A good year.
Ginger was a theme, and so was brawn. Only the Anchor and Harpoon came in under 6% ABV, while the rest tried to bury the needle. There was a tie with the High ABV Award this year, entries from Ommegang Adoration and St. Bernardus both at 10%. Strength is no guarantee of anything but eventual senselessness when it comes to beer, but when handled with the skill, grace and depth of flavor that both of these beers exemplify, it can make any day festive, even the ones that already are.
Whether I’ll celebrate in the same way next December remains a guessing game. A month removed from the hullaballoo I’m thinking, Why not? There will be no shortage of contenders. A-B InBev couldn’t possibly buy up 3,300+ craft breweries in that amount of time. Right?
[Jan. 28, 2015]
The 12 Beers of Christmas
12 Beers of Christmas 1: Anchor Our Special Ale 2014
12 Beers of Christmas 2: Harpoon UFO Gingerland
12 Beers of [Christmas] 3: Hanukkah, Chanukah Pass the Beer
12 Beers of Christmas 4: Guinness The 1759
12 Beers of Christmas 5: Samuel Adams Merry Maker Gingerbread Stout
12 Beers of Christmas 6: Elysian Bifrost Winter Ale
12 Beers of Christmas 7: Ommegang Adoration Dark Winter Ale
12 Beers of Christmas 8: Deschutes Jubelale
12 Beers of Christmas 9: Petrus Winter #9 Ale
12 Beers of Christmas 10: 3 Sheeps Ewephoria
12 Beers of Christmas 11: Baladin Nöel
12 Beers of Christmas 12: St. Bernardus Christmas Ale
1 Anchor Our Special Ale 2013
2 Troëg’s The Mad Elf Ale
3 Victory’s Winter Cheers
4 Magic Hat’s G-Thing
5 10 Barrel Brewing Pray for Snow
6 Corsendonk Christmas Ale
7 Mahr’s Bräu Christmas Bock
8 Sixpoint Global Warmer
9 Nöel des Géants
10 Mikkeller Hoppy Lovin’ Christmas
11 Harpoon Winter Warmer
12 Dupont Avec les Bons Voeux
12 Beers of Christmas Reprise
1 Anchor Our Special Ale 2012
2 Nogne Ø Winter Ale
3 Samuel Adams Winter Lager
4 Southern Tier 2XMAS
5 St. Feuillien Cuvée de Noël
6 Delirium Noël
7 Newcastle Winter IPA
8 Jolly Pumpkin Noel de Calabaza
9 Gouden Carolus Noël
10 Otter Creek Winter Red Ale
11 Magic Hat Wooly
12 Element Winter Ion
Related post: 12 Beers of Christmas 2015 Reprise