On my wanderings yesterday, I came across a largeish number of Christmas beers. Not surprising at all given the time of year. What was disappointing to me at least, was that there was scarcely the merest nod to something seasonal. They weren't dark, malty and luscious with a hint of Christmas spices to lift them and bring a suggestion of winter warmth, but were mostly just plain ordinary beers of ordinary strength and a dreary ordinariness. Do you see a theme emerging here?
I wonder about this. I assume the brewer sat and thought, "we'd better have a Christmas Beer" and then proceeded to trot out another of the same, or maybe, suspicious type that I am, just blended something. He didn't make the leap of faith needed to produce something special, different and memorable.
I am going to name this roll of shame. In order of those tried, tested and found wanting were:
Tom Wood's Jolly Snowman 3.6% and dull, dull, dull.
Northern Brewing Santa's Slide 3.6%. Vaguely hoppy and very ordinary.
Three B's Santa's Skinful. 4%. Darker, but just as dull.
George Wright Partridge in a Pear Tree 5.1%. A bit of winter strength, but pale and unbalanced.
Allgates Santa's Coming 4.4%. This was actually a lovely beer, but not at all Christmassey in my opinion, though it does have an amusing pumpclip.
And finally, a real Christmas Ale. From Allgates again. This time Winter Tipple, with a slight lactic edge, good body, an appealing maltiness with some spice. Warming and moreish! Well done to the lads from Wigan.
Other beers enjoyed yesterday were the ever dependable Hydes Bitter, Jennings Cumberland, Holts Bitter and Bazen's Pacific. All in terrific form, particularly the Bazen's which has seemed off the mark a bit recently. Good to see it back on blob!
My mate Mike is the only one who isn't a pumpclip!
A bit of a CV. Tandleman is a veteran beer lover, local CAMRA Chairman and activist, beer writer, beer reviewer and pursuer of all things good in beer. He lives in the North West of England and London. Despite his CAMRA membership, he does not limit himself to cask conditioned beer, though he believes that cask conditioning, when done correctly and appropriately, brings a quality to beer that is hard to equal by any other kind of presentation. He is a strong supporter of Northern methods of beer dispense and avidly detests poorly presented beer and dislikes pasteurisation. He regularly visits Germany, has conducted corporate British and German beer tastings for CAMRA at the Great British Beer Festival where he has worked for years on Biere Sans Frontieres and was Deputy Organiser at CAMRA's very successful National Winter Ales Festival in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 and at the Manchester Beer and Cider Festival from 2013 to date. He admires good brewers wherever they are and has travelled extensively in pursuit of good beer to drink. He also judges beer at both the International Beer Challenge and the World Beer Awards.
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