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, orangey 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 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.
89 Winter Warmer, Garrison Brewing Co. (Canada). 6.7% ABV (3/10)
Deep mahogany color. Rich brown spice and fig butter aromas follow through on a rich entry to a dry-yet-fruity medium to full body with good balance of nutty malt and spices. Finishes with a crisp, citrus crème brûlée, rye toast and coriander fade.
88 Santa’s Private Reserve Ale, Rogue Ales (OR). 5.3% ABV (3/10)
Rich copper color. Aromas of grilled grapefruit, pine and cocoa follow through on a round entry to a dryish medium-to-full body with roasted corn and vegetable notes. Finishes with a long, crisp and astringency piney hop finish. Lacking a traditional spice character, but nicely hoppy and warming.
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.