95 Jolly Pumpkin-Nogne Ø-Stone Special Holiday Ale, Stone Brewing Co. (CA). 9% ABV (3/09)
Deep reddish brown color. Rich spicy herbal aroma is reminiscent of turkey stuffing and gingerbread and follow through on a very smooth and satiny entry to a dry-yet-fruity medium-full body with layers milk chocolate, pumpernickel rye toast, dried fruits and roasted nuts. Finishes with a smooth, chewy earthy herb, crystallized ginger and grapefruit peel fade. A delicious, inventive and rich winter ale that has fantastic balance and style.
94 Christmas Ale, Great Lakes Brewing Co. (OH). 7.5% ABV (2/07)
Rich copper color. Lovely aromas of candied ginger and spice follow though to a frothy dry-yet-fruity medium-full body of cinnamon French toast, honey and lemon marmalade flavors. Finishes with a long, spicy, caramelly cinnamon bun fade. Great spicy, richness and balance.
93 Jubelale, Deschutes Brewery (OR) 2008. 6.7% ABV (3/09)
Reddish brown color with a tan head. Aromas of toffee and poached apples follow through on a supple entry to a dry-yet-fruity medium body with roasted coffee, maple syrup, dried fruits and unsweetened cocoa notes. Finishes tangy chocolate-dusted orange peel, roasted nut and exotic peppercorn fade. A rich, smooth and expansive beer that will go great with roasted meats.
92 Christmas Ale, Goose Island Brewing Co. (IL). 7.2% ABV (3/09)
Deep copper color with a manila blanket of foam. Aromas of milk chocolate-covered nuts follow through on a soft, supple entry to a dryish medium body with subtle spiced nut and dried fruit flavors. Finishes with a tangy, orangy hop fade with delicate spiciness and great drinkability.
91 Mild Winter Ale, Goose Island Brewing Co. (IL). 5.6% ABV (3/09)
Deep brown color with a tight white head. Aromas of chai, chicory and chocolate have a seared bacon edge and follow through on a round entry to dryish medium-to-full body with roasted nuts, cocoa, soda bread and dried fruit notes. Finishes with a subtle spiced cider and hot cocoa-accented fade. Not really spiced like a winter ale but very nice and drinkable.
90 Winter Welcome Ale, Samuel Smith’s Old Brewery (England). 6% ABV (1/07)
Beautiful deep amber color. Mild earthy hop aromas. A frothy and crisp entry leads to a dryish medium body of mildly tangy dried citrus, peach, golden raisin toast and delicate spice. Finishes with a lovely caramel and toast fade. Very, smooth, refreshing and tasty.
90 Hoppy Holidaze, Marin Brewing Co. (CA). 7.5% ABV (3/09)
Bright copper penny color with a yellow tint. Bold aromas of spicy orange Christmas cake follow through on a round entry to a fruity-yet-dry medium-to-full body with orange pekoe tea and eggnog notes. Finishes with a crisp, spicy orange and mineral fade. A pleasant holiday sipper.
87 Santa’s Secret, Carolina Brewery (NC). 5.33% ABV (1/07)
Amber color. Gingerbread nutmeg and allspice aromas and flavors with a sour citrus finish. Interesting.
86 Winter Ale, Stoudt’s Brewing Co. (PA). 4.5% ABV (1/07)
Mahogany color with tan head. Curious dried beef, roasted chestnut and faint malt vinegar aromas. A spry entry leads to a dry and mildly frothy light-to-medium body of roasted grain and nuts, dark raisin toast and mild spices. Finishes with a tangy, dark chocolate-covered citrus fade.
85 Winter Warmer, Garrison Brewing Company (Canada). 6.7% ABV (3/09)
Rich mahogany color with a lingering khaki mousse. Aromas of coffee candy and chocolate-covered orange peels follow through on a supple entry to a dryish medium body with toasty bread and delicate spice notes. Finishes with a nut skin and earthy, mossy hop fade.
84 Lions Winter Ale, Granville Island Brewing Co. (Canada). 5.5% ABV (2/07)
Amber color. Maple, delicate spice and pecan toffee aromas and flavors with a touch of vanilla soda. Finishes with a mellow, slightly metallic and thin cookie dough fade.