Last year, in typical fashion, we waited until the last minute to start a series on the best brews for the Christmas holiday. This year, we're going corporate and starting the Christmas firestorm before Thanksgiving (thanks for the tip, GTB). Next year, we'll start around Columbus Day.
On the first day of Christmas, our trusty assistant brought to us one heavy hitter. The other 11 Christmas brews should be on alert because the bar is set high right out of the gate.
Great Lakes Brewing Company makes many good brews - Lake Erie Monster is among our favorites. The Christmas Ale though is what the holidays are all about - you expect a gift and are "happy" to receive anything because that's what the holidays require but then you get this gift totally out of left field that seems like it was made only for you and the person who gave the gift "gets you". Our holiday plan is to drink as much GLBC Christmas Ale as possible so this may be a short series.
Brewed with cinnamon, ginger, and honey, this beer feels like the holidays. It pours a nice amber-red with an mild light brown head that doesn't last particularly long (that's what she said). Generally, the term "balanced" is overused in craft reviews but this time we mean it. This beer is a bit on the sweet side but it is well balanced by the spices so you get great flavor from start to finish. The sweet side keeps you coming back for more and the spices warm the cockles of your heart (that's what she said). We didn't really pick up the Hallertau and Cascade hops in the aroma or in the flavor but we're still confident they are in the beer. For those who care, the Christmas Ale has a slew of medals - most don't care.
PS - We don't care if you call it Christmas, X-mas, Happy Holidays or anything else. Chill out and have a beer.