Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The Naughty and Nice Beers List

If you are like the Beer Run Blog crew, you like to do your Christmas shopping late - specifically after Christmas, when everything goes on sale. And if that's the case, you might be able to find a good bargain among this year's Christmas beer offerings, which liquor stores are going to start pushing off their shelves soon.

So, in the spirit of always writing this column as late in the holiday season as humanly possible, it is worth giving a shout out to some of the beers that made the past month seasonally fun, especially as they start disappearing. Like searching for Santa, you'd  better look quick before these are gone. And you'd better realize whether you've landed on the naughty or nice lists to figure out what you're getting.

Very, very nice - and knowledgeable about beer:
* Five Golden Rings - Saying that The Bruery's annual seasonal beer is the best on the market almost feels cliched. But when it adds pineapple juice and subtle spices to a Belgian strong golden ale to give it a hugely sweet and slightly tart feel, it's just the best thing out there.
* Tis the Saison - Denver Beer Co's offering was a thinker. You had to swirl its floral flavor around a few times before realizing that what made it unique was the peppermint and spearmint added to it. And then you ordered another one.
* Santa's Little Helper - Port Brewing makes another year-to-year top Christmas beer, but unlike The Bruery, it just stays consistent with a reindeer-butt-kicking imperial stout that warms you completely.

Quite nice
* Upslope Christmas Ale - A medium body and a bold taste made this spiced Belgian-style dubbel a full mouth experience with a slight spice to its backtaste. This Boulder brewery may just be becoming the new king of seasonal surprises.
* Hibernation Ale - Those who make the mistake of going a year without enjoying Great Divide's classic strong ale may forget how its woody, caramel-lined body backed by a strong hop backbone really is one of the most solid Christmas beers around.
* Winter Warlock - Bristol Brewing seemed to add a slight bit of sweetness to its traditionally dark oatmeal porter this year, giving it just a touch of pleasant newness.

Just plain nice
* Winter Tartan Scottish Ale - Maybe the surprise of the Christmas season was this vanilla-laced Scottish ale served up by Rock Bottom Downtown Denver, a unique addition to the holiday pantheon.
* Brr Winter Ale - The other great surprise was a hop bomb by Widmer Brothers that featured a berry-fruit taste rather than a traditional citrus fruit palate with its hops.

* Big Shot Seasonal Ale - Fort Collins Brewery offered up a big brown ale that was malty, decently hopped on the back - and no different than a year-round decent brown ale would be.
* Newcastle Winter IPA - Yes, British IPAs are much subtler than American IPAs. But it's still extremely hard to identify the hop presence in this extremely easy-drinking caramel-base beer. It's not awful, just dull - not the kind of thing you want to put in a beer aficionado's stocking.

Merry Christmas, everyone.

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