Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A Very Belated Gift from Three Wise Brewers

I am often intrigued by collaboration beers; and, recently, brewers have been banding together in threes to produce some rather interesting collaboration beers.  I've reviewed a couple of those beers.  There is the Saison du Buff (Dogfish Head, Stone and Victory), which was brewed with rosemary, sage and thyme.  There is also the El Camino (Un)Real Ale (Stone, 21st Amendment and Firestone Walker), which is brewed with fennel seeds, chia seeds and pink peppercorns, along with mission figs.  Both were very interesting and very good.

When I was in Chicago, I came across another one of these collaboration beers.  The beer is the Special Holiday Ale and it is a collaboration between Stone Brewing Company, Nøgne-Ø and Jolly Pumpkin.  The beer is a holiday ale brewed with certain spices and other ingredients including chestnuts, juniper berries, white sage and caraway seeds.  Although it is a holiday ale, it sat in our basement through the holidays until, recently, when I decided that I would try the beer. 

The Special Holiday Ale pours a brownish color, that somewhat resembles cola. The ingredients contribute to the aroma, because I could smell the juniper berries and the white sage.  These aromas are accompanied by scents of the malts and a little roasted aroma (most likely contributed by the chestnuts).  I had a harder time sensing the caraway seeds, which is a little unexpected because caraway has a strong aroma. 

The flavor of this beer is very good.  Despite the unusual ingredients, the Special Holiday Ale has the flavors of a traditional holiday or Christmas Ale.  The taste elements clearly focus on the chestnuts (which had to have been roasted, given the attendant roast and coffee flavors), white sage and juniper berries.  Unlike the aroma, I could sense some of the caraway in the taste of the beer, especially on the finish and on the tongue. The finish was a little dry, but that did not really detract from the overall experience of drinking the beer. 

I found this beer at a Binny's outside of Chicago.  Although I don't recall the price, the other collaborations usually sold for about $3.00 to $4.00 a bottle.  


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