I asked Josh to stop and pick up some holiday beers to try as a fun, Friday evening activity. And did he ever pick up some beer. I was expecting three or four beers, but we had eight. What to do?
Enter, the Xmas Beer Bracket.
Over the next week, we will pair two beers at a time, in three rounds to determine the 2013 Xmas Beer Champion.
Round One in the Lake Michigan Bracket – Revolution Fistmas v. Dark Horse 4 Elf
These were two very different beers both from breweries that I like and respect, though neither one was a slam dunk for me. Josh, as is his usual practice, took notes on the beers and I gave my feedback on appearance, aroma, taste and my overall preferences. The notes below are mostly his, with a little bit of editing from me. We tend to consider beers along the lines of the Beer Judge Certification Program criteria: aroma, appearance, flavor, mouth feel, and overall impression.
Revolution Brewing, Chicago, IL – Fistmas Holiday Ale (6.1% ABV)
Copper, clear, med. khaki head.
Strong, hoppy nose of pine and spruce, with some citrus as it warms. Some malt, but light.
Tastes more malty than it smells, though the bitterness holds its own. Still some pine, with something else that I don’t really dig.
Medium body and carbonation. Not really warming. No astringency, but not particularly dry on the finish either.
An interesting take on the style, pushing piney hoppiness and leaving the spicing to play a supporting role (unless some of the spicing is from spruce or something, which wouldn’t surprise me). Not really my thing, though.
Josh: 5/10 & Erin: 6/10
Dark Horse Brewing Co., Marshall, MI – 4 Elf Winter Warmer Ale (8.75%)
Dark brown, somewhat cloudy and pretty much opaque, with a small tan head.
Spicy nose: molasses, clove, gingerbread. Roasty malt hanging back.
Heavy spice taste. Clove, cinnamon, maybe nutmeg.
Medium body and carbonation. A bit warming as it goes down, but not as much as one would expect, given the alcohol. Nice dry finish, but with a touch of astringency.
More towards a traditional, dark winter warmer, but perhaps a bit more fortifying than the average. I’d prefer a bit less spicing, but Dark Horse again does a great job making a high-alcohol beer seem significantly less so.
Josh: 7/10 & Erin 8/10
Winner of the first bracket: 4 Elf with a cumulative 15/20.
Congratulations, 4Elf. You will be facing off against the winner of our upcoming Distant Shores Bracket: Anchor Steam’s Christmas Ale v. Samuel Smith’s Winter Welcome Ale.