Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Advent Calendar - 23rd December 2014

Beer Advent Calendar
Naylor's Brewery - Santa's Dark Side 4.4%
23rd December 2014

One more post until Christmas! Surely you're excited by now?

Even though the last week and a half at work has been totally exhausting, I'm actually starting to feel a little festive. All my Christmas beer are now sorted, I popped into Ales By Mail this afternoon to pick up a few last minute bottles, including Siren's 'Fortuna's Gift' and 'When The Lights Go Out' and Weird Beard's 'Smoke' and 'Fire', and a couple of Christmas presents as well.

I don't know about you but I don't really feel that I can get properly stuck in to my Christmas selection until Christmas Eve night at the earliest as that for me is when the magic starts to happen and when I really feel that I can start to relax.

I know that I've got a decent selection to keep me going through the winter months, and I will be writing me Golden Pints and Golden Posts over the next week or so, but I just thought I would highlight a few of the overseas beers that really stood out for me this year without giving too much away.

Michigan brewers Jolly Pumpkin excel at open fermentation and oak barrel ageing and their Madrugada Obscura - Dark Dawn is a sour stout, and it sure is good. Tart and sour, then toasty with hints of vanilla and a big lactic finish it was the first stand out overseas beer of the year for me and i loved it so much I bought another bottle just to share with friends.

Another US brewer, Shorts Brewing Company provided me with my second overseas taste sensation with Bourbon Sustenance their Schwarzbier, but it's unlike any Schwarzbier I've had before or since. Big with boozy bourbon, soy sauce, mint jelly, espresso coffee, blackberry and burnt toast, it sounds like a total mess that wouldn't work under any circumstances but it actually combines to be something quite sublime instead.

Brasserie Cantillon from Belgium are world renowned for their traditional Lambic beers. They are simply masters at what they do, and looking through my beer list this year their Iris and that cask of Lou Pepe Kriek that they had at the Great British Beer Festival all scored highly, however it is another two of their beers, both of which were on cask that I had at the Kernel Brewery towards the end of September that completely blew my mind. Fou' Foune was simply Founetastic, a sour apricot blast that's smooth and cultured too, it's so good that I could hardly speak whilst drinking it, but even this was eclipsed by the Zwanze (2014) Cuvee Florian. Tart and bitter with sour cherries but it's smooth and subtle too, it goes straight up your nose and slaps you round the face, and is possibly the closest to beer perfection that I've ever had. Those present, around fifty, all received their third of a pint in immaculate glassware, returning to their seats with due reverence before savouring it's sheer beauty. It is unlikely that I will ever have this beer again, but I feel privileged to have had it even once.

The last beer is one I had recently at Hop Burns and Black in Peckham, a new beer shop that I will be featuring in a post in the new year. The Yeastie Boys 'Sly Persuader', part of their Spoonbender series, is an extra pale Blonde Ale brewed with Pacifica and Nelson Sauvin hops, but it is the addition of Botrylised Viognier Candi-sugar that gives it that special something. With the aroma of blackberry and apricot it has a gorgeously fruity red wine taste that I will be going back for very soon.

So there you have it, five of my favourites of the year. If you can find them I urge you to give them a go, they are all outstanding.

And so we move on to the answers to yesterday's questions, and it's a huge well done to Richard Hargreaves who got them all spot on first time. Those answers are:

1. Twelve Days

2. Staffordshire Brewery

3. Ohio

4, Celebration Ale

5. Ridgeway Brewery

I hope you got then all. It's your last chance today as there will be no questions tomorrow, so why don't you give it a go?

Today's beer is from Naylor's Brewery based in Cross Hills, near Keighley in West Yorkshire. They have been brewing since 2001 and they describe Santa's Dark Side as a menacing, strong, dark and rich ale with roasted flavours. Let me find out for myself.

It pours a dark brown with deep orange highlights and a thin beige head, but the aroma has some serious roasty toasty character going on with loads of burnt toast and roasted coffee, but there's also a hint of cream and black pepper which is really rather inviting. It's quite thin over the tongue with a good level of bitterness and some dark fruits, particularly dates and raisins making an appearance before a good twist of black pepper carries it along to the finish. That pepper flavour is muted here with a touch of liquorice wood as well then it all fades away with echoes of strong white coffee. This is a very tasty beer, and it certainly is dark, however it is the thin mouth feel that stops it being a great beer. When I have a beer this toasty I like to be able to chew it a little bit, but due to it's slender nature that manages to elude me. I would recommend giving this a go if you see it though as it has bags more flavour than many other seasonal offerings, and if you like it roasty toasty you won't be disappointed,

Here are the final set of questions as tomorrow is Christmas Eve, the last day of Advent. I  hope you've enjoyed testing your beery knowledge over the last few weeks and so we come to the final five.

1. What is the name of Wychwood's Christmas Ale that has a picture of Ebeneezer Scrooge carrying a candle on the label?

2. Which Belgium brewery brews Gluhkriek, a lambic beer produced for the Christmas season?

3. And staying with Belgium, Brouwerij Kerkom brew a festive beer called Winterkoninkske, but what does Winterkninkske mean?

4. Noche Buena is a Christmas beer brewed by Cerveceria Cuauhtemoc Moctezuma but what country is it brewed in?

5. Holgate Brewery make a festive brew called Black Forest Summer Porter, but why would a Christmas beer be so called?

A couple of teasers there, and the last one will be obvious when you know the brewery, but now it's the penultimate Christmas cracker joke, so let's make it a terrible one.

What does Santa call his little helpers?

Subordinate Clauses!

1 comment:

  1. Definitely agree Justin, that you can’t get properly stuck into your Christmas beer selection until Christmas Eve! Just enjoying the second bottle of mine. Cheers!