Archive for December, 2009
The weather forecasters were correct and we actually got a dusting of roughly a foot of snow today. With snow on the ground, and it being the holiday season, I thought I would crack open a “holiday/winter beer”.
In the snifter the beer is a lush ruby red that is perfectly clear. The head is snow white, and very thin, lasting mere seconds before fading to a ring against the glass walls. Even without a head the aromas are quite pronounced with bushels of cherry aroma inundating my nose. The cherry however is wrapped in this exquisite spiced note.
The tip of the tongue tingles with a slight warming sensation but this is quickly swept away by the beer’s cherry flavor. The cherry flavor is a mix of sweet and tart, with a dash of bitter chocolate thrown in for good measure. Before I can dwell too much on these flavors however, the spice notes, originally noticed in the aroma, come and take charge. They do not muscle the cherry flavors out however, they enhance them. The beer finishes slightly syrupy, the rest of the mouthfeel was quite light, and with some hints of rustic, unrefined honey.
Without the spice this would just beer a fruit beer. Granted a some what interesting fruit beer due to the sweet and tart combo, but still a fruit beer. The spice of the beer, which came from the beer’s Belgian yeast strain and was tough to peg down taste wise… some cinnamon, coriander, a few others… is what elevated this beer, and worked so well with the sweet/tart cherry, and bitter chocolate combination. I am not a huge “holiday/winter beer” person. I find most brewers over due the spice or alcohol, by the way The Mad Elf is 11% but you will never notice it in the aroma or taste, in their offerings. This beer however, it should be produced all year.
Massachusetts is due to get hit by a snow storm tonight and tomorrow (I’ll believe it when it actually happens… weather forecasters are not the most reliable bunch around here), the temperature has been quite cold recently, and I’m sitting down to enjoy an… ESB? Sure the ESB might not be the typical “winter beer” but so what? The McNeill’s ESB is a favorite of mine, and any time I see it on store shelves, which happens to be more frequently thankfully, I pick up a bottle or two.
It pours a lightly cloudy light copper into my pint glass. The beer is topped with a finger of slightly off white head that sticks around for a good few minutes. The head’s texture has a cream consistency, with some large interspersed bubbles, almost like it was poured from a nitro-tap.
In the nose the beer is a pleasurable mix between its malt and hop characteristics. Freshly toasted bread, and slight caramelization provide a mouth watering malt presence. The hop is equally enticing with lemon zest, herb, floral, and lingering pepper spice all playing in my nose. The aroma is quite dry in experience, which reads strange, even when I write it, but dryness came to mind when thinking about the character.
In the mouth the beer is clean and runs smooth through the mouth. The beer starts with a sweet caramel, bread taste. This bread flavor provides a nice base for the hops to work off of. Though I did not notice it in the nose, the hop character has a grapefruit presence, which is a nice surprise, mixed with a herb character. The finish is nice and bitter with a slight spiciness to it that drys everything off.
Now I am only left with thick lacing on the glass walls, a reminder of a great beer drunk.