Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Advent Calendar - 3rd December 2014

Beer Advent Calendar
Tioga-Sequoia Brewing Co. - 99 Golden Ale
3rd December 2014

There are certain things that are obvious signs that Christmas is coming. Coloured lights start appearing in the high street, the shop windows are full of brightly coloured and often well thought out displays, designed to entice you in, there's a nip in the air, and you get to the final page on your calendar, but there are also quite personal things, things that mean it's Christmas to you. One of mine happened this morning when I turned on my iPod and the first track that greeted me was Low's 'Just Like Christmas', one of my all time favourite Christmas songs. Some people think that it's the Coca-Cola commercial on the television that means that the festive season is under way but for me this song is the real portent, with it's simple sleigh-bell driven rhythm and naïve expectation, initial disappointment but ultimate joy that makes it almost the perfect Yuletide track. I love it.

So now that Christmas has officially started for me it's time to get on with today's beer, but before that I'd better give you the answers to yesterdays questions.

1. Sunday (the first Sunday in October)

2. Cassissona

3. Kilning

4. Forbidden Fruit

5. Paulaner

I hope you got those ones. Not too bad were they? I'd be super impressed if you got the Italian beer name without having to look it up, so give yourself an extra pat on the back if you did.

So onto the beer.

When I put my hand into the Ales by Mail Advent Calendar and pulled out this bottle the first thing I thought of on seeing it was Rogue's Dead Guy Ale as the label has a certain similarity. Although not a common beer in the UK, or indeed a brewery whose beer is commonly found here, I have had this before, in fact I have had quite a few from Tioga-Sequoia before due to the Ales by Mail offices being close to my place of work. Based in Fresno, California, the brewery was founded in 2007 and donate part of their profits each year to help promote and preserve the area in and around the Southern Sierra Nevada mountains which run along the east side of the valley in which the brewery sits.

Pouring the colour of golden syrup with a faint white head, the aroma of honey-drizzled white toast with a hint of lemon citrus assaults the nostrils with a sweet zesty sensation. A big rush of carbonation over the tongue brings more honeyed lemon which is sweetly refreshing at first but quickly becomes cloyingly sticky as I proceed down the glass. Candied lemon caramel emerges in the finish, and whilst this is a flavoursome beer, tastier than the standard golden ale offering I'm afraid it's not for me, and I confess that I'm struggling to drink the last of it.

For me personally, this beer is too sweet and whilst admittedly a good example of a (honey) golden ale it is a style of which I'm not overly fond as anyone who has read this recent post by me will already know. I will say however that Tioga-Sequoia brew some excellent beer, and if you ever come across their Midnight Lightning Imperial Stout which is thick, luxurious and boozy or particularly their Joaquin Murrieta Chile Pepper Beer which seemingly has fresh green chilli in every mouthful, then make sure you get yourself some as you'll be in for a real treat. A quick look at their website shows that Ales By Mail have the latter beer in stock as well as 99 Golden Ale too.

Putting the beer to one side for a moment, it's time to get your thinking caps on as here come todays questions ...

1. The Saint Nicolo is an ale branded by the Cittavecchia brewery of the Italian town of Trieste, which is released in celebration of Saint Nicholas, one of the many patron saints of brewing, but which day of the year is St Nicholas' Day?

2. On beer labels the alcohol percentage is often followed by the letters ABV. What does ABV stand for?

3. Some Trappist abbeys happily pander to the ever-increasing demand for their coveted beers, yet one Belgian abbey sticks to its vows. The abbey info-line tells callers when the next batch of ale will be available, and people queue up to collect their strict ration of beer. Name the monastery.

4. What characteristic cereal goes into German and Austrian Roggen Bier?

5. What is the term for additional starch ingredients in brewing, such as rice and sugar cane, which add inexpensive, fermentable sugar to the wort?

Good luck with those.

... and ... you knew it was coming ... here's that Christmas cracker joke you've all been waiting for ...

What did one snowman say to the other snowman?

Can you smell carrots

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