Thursday, 18 December 2014

Advent Calendar - 18th December 2014

Beer Advent Calendar
Cotleigh Brewery - Red Nose Reinbeer Christmas Ale 4.5%
18th December 2014

One week to go my friends, that's seven days, one hundred and sixty eight hours, ten thousand and eighty minutes, or even six hundred and four thousand eight hundred seconds if you are so inclined.

The eighteenth of December is a particularly significant day in beer, especially if you are an American, as it was on this day in 1917 that Congress passed the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution, the Prohibition Of Liquor. Section one of this amendment reads as follows:

"After one year from the ratification of this article the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors within, the importation thereof into, or the exportation thereof from the United States and all territory subjuect to the jurisdiction thereof for beverage purposes is hereby prohibited."

This was finally ratified on January 16th, 1919, and was not repealed until December 5th 1933, so raise a glass that you live right here right now and can buy and drink beer without fear of prosecution.

Prohibition was of course responsible for the closure of many of the smaller breweries in the USA, and those that survived were gobbled up by larger breweries eager to expand and consolidate their position. This situation remained fairly unchanged until the mid 1960s when Frederick 'Fritz' Maytag III purchased the failing Anchor Brewing Company and helped kick-start a revolution.

You may well ask why on earth have I mentioned Anchor in this piece about prohibition and Christmas, well the simple answer is that I recently saw something that the brewery tweeted that I shared on twitter. It was quite early in the morning and I thought it merited another mention here in case you missed it.

Every year since 1975 Anchor Brewing have brewed a distinctive Christmas beer called Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Each year the recipe is unique as is the label artwork which always a tree, mostly Christmas trees but not always. This year is the fortieth year that the beer has been brewed and to commemorate this Anchor have put the labels up on their website in chronological order. This is a beer that I look out for every year, and have had all but one of the last eleven, it really is a Christmas treat. I'll end today's introduction with a link to the website, and you can view all those labels and see what you've been missing right here.

Hopefully that's made you feel a little more Christmassy, I know it has me, so while I've got you feeling suitably festive here the answers to yesterday's quiz questions:

1. Pierre Celis

2. Bock

3. Brasserie du Bocq

4. The Munich Oktoberfest

5. Berliner Weisse

I hope you got those, I got all the answers, excluding the one to question three from various people, but no-one got more than two right so I'm afraid it's another rollover.

Today's beer is, as the more observant of you would have spotted, Cotleigh Brewery's Red Nose Reinbeer. As usual when I want to let you know at little bit more detail about a beer or brewery I will scan the internet to find out some beery nuggets to pass on to you, and this case was no different. The Cotleigh Brewery site lets you know that this beer is brewed using 'Pale, Crystal and Chocolate malts with Goldings, Fuggles and Northdown hops' but it was this review from Denis Borodin's (@1pumplane) blog from his 2013 Christmas Advent Calendar that really caught my eye. So while you enjoy that I'll go and get the beer from my 2014 Ales By Mail Advent Calendar.

It pours a deep dark ruby red, very dark actually but it's definitely red, and head is a rich creamy beige. There isn't much aroma jumping out of this glass and I have to get in really close to detect anything at all, but quite unexpectedly I'm picking up an aroma that most closely resembles a spicy Belgian golden ale, muted and with a hint of chocolate but I am intrigued. It's quite full over the tongue with a gentle prickle of carbonation and the taste is rather sour, like a really soft Flanders Red, with dark berry fruits and and a modicum of chocolate, but it is really really toned down as the the volume switch is barely on and this is a real shame. It's certainly drinkable but I'm having to work hard to pull these flavours out and that's not really what I want from a beer. The finish is like a very malty bread pudding but again it's terribly understated although it is quite tasty. I have to admit to being a little disappointed with this beer and it's all because of it's lack of presence, it doesn't really get going at all and that ultimately makes me feel a little cheated.

So while I go and soak the label off this bottle, I'll let give you today's quiz questions.

1. What is the generic term for the moderately hopped, pale, dry, and often cloudy beer brewed in and around the city of Cologne?

2. And staying with German beer ... which German city was originally home to Altbier brewing?

3. What are the names of the two festive brews that BrewDog is offering in its online shop this Christmas?

4. Which is currently the only United States city to have its own Mikkeller Bar?

5. Since the year 2000, the Goose Island Brewery (now owned by AB-InBev) have brewed a Christmas Ale in all except one of the succeeding years. Which one?

I'm hoping they aren't too difficult and I'm looking forward to some correct answers this evening. As always I wish you the best of luck.

And so, once more it's time for that cracker joke.

Are you ready?


Because here it is:

What do Santa's little helpers learn in nursery school?

The Elfabet!

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