Saturday, December 24, 2011

Holiday Beer Week, Part Five: The New Champion of Christmas

For the past two years, no holiday beer has brought more to the season than Port Brewing's Santa's Little Helper, a fiercely dark imperial stout that could keep you warm if you were sitting outside in the snow. It just seemed that nothing would dethrone it as the Christmas beer king.

Then came Four Calling Birds, this year's addition to The Bruery's now-4-year-old collection of rotating holiday specialties. And it just yanked that title away.

Four Calling Birds (the one on the left with less head in the photo) brings its own inky darkness to the table, a trait that leaves even more of an impression in your mouth with the resounding hint of high alcohol in its backtaste. But it adds both the smoothness that defines Belgian-style strong ales and a spice presence - largely, gingerbread - that floats through your mouth. Thus, it becomes the rare beer that will both pound your taste buds with its flavor and soothe you with a cookie-like flavor profile, leaving you thinking this is the beer you really want to leave out for Santa.

Don't get me wrong: Santa's Little Helper (on the right in the photo, with the thick head) remains a rare highly drinkable imperial stout in which you can literally chew on the roastiness of the malt and be wowed. But, at least this year, it's only second on my list of the beers that I want to keep drinking throughout the winter.

And if you need to decide yourself, head down to Freshcraft, which should have both of the offerings on tap throughout most of next week.

This is the last of a five-part series examining the beers of this holiday season. Merry Christmas and happy new beer!

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You have so many great articles and have devoted so much time to this blog! You make all of us craft brewers proud and I can't tell you how impressed I am with your continuous posting. Most blogs are something like 2 years or less, but not you! Heck, I just started my blog and I am trying to model my blogging habits after brew fans like yourself. CHEERS!
Thank you, Jesse and Pam. This is one of the nicest comments I've gotten. I feel I actually don't post often enough, but I am honored that you would like my writing. Cheers to you, and I hope to meet you two over a beer some day.
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