Tuesday, 5 January 2016
#12EssexBeersofChristmas The Twelfth Day - Twelfth Night
The Twelve Essex Beers of Christmas
It's the Twelfth Day of Christmas, or Twelfth Night or Epiphany if you's prefer, and it's time for my last entry of this Essex seasonal selection, and the beer I've chosen is particularly apt for the day.
As it's the last day I'm going to take this opportunity to look forward to some of the things that I'll be up to for @BeerInEssex this year.
You can expect quite a few features on Essex Breweries as I'll be getting out and about to bring you more stories from our county's brewers starting with Saffron who I visited towards the end of last year. I'll also be finishing off my guide to Essex bottled beer starting with Pitfield/Dominion and finishing with Wibblers, hopefully finding a few gems along the way.
I have a couple of projects that I'm hoping to come to fruition, some of which are in the very early stages but could prove to be rather exciting but we'll have to wait and see. I'm also planning to brew again this year, and a beer with Billericay Brewing has been in the pipeline for a while and if everything falls into place we hope to have it available at the Chelmsford Winter Beer Festival in February.
That's all to come and I'll hope you'll join me, or at least look in from time to time, but for now the time has come to open one final Essex Christmas Beer.
The Twelfth Day, Twelfth Night:
George's Brewery - Balthazar's Feast 9.0%
This Extra Strong Old Ale has a curious name combining both that of the wise man (King or mage) who is supposed to have brought the gift of myrrh to the infant Jesus, an event that is celebrated today, the Twelfth Day of Christmas, and a story in the book of Daniel, Belshazzar's Feast (which is also a painting by Rembrandt) where King Belshazzar holds a great Feast using the cups from the great Temple, but dies that night for his blasphemy. Hoping not to meet the same fate, I'm going to pour this out.
This is a deep brown beer with ruby red edges and a sustained creamy off-white head. The aroma is really fruity at first full of blackcurrant, blackberry, liquorice and burnt toast, it really is inviting, one of those beers you instinctively know is going to be good. I have had this beer before and I remember that I loved it when I had it in the summer, but my mouth is salivating just thinking about it. This is a fresh batch, and now you know why I left it to last. Smooth at first before a big bitter boozy kick propels this beer into a whirl of raisin, chocolate, blackcurrant and a beautiful alcohol burn, all stirred around with a stick of liquorice wood. The finish is equally fruity, with the blackcurrant fading out slowly into a dry bitter ghost that takes up residence at the back of your tongue and waves comfortingly at you from time to time like an old friend across a crowded bar.
This was a great way to finish this journey through twelve Christmas beers from my home county of Essex, and I'm extremely grateful to all the brewers and breweries for making them. I paid for them all with the exception of the Billericay Brewing Black Christmas, and I have enjoyed every one. I really do hope you have had a fantastic Christmas and 2016 brings you all that you wish for. I also hope that you have enjoyed this exploration of Essex beer, and if Essex brewers produce twelve different Essex Christmas beers next year, and I can get hold of them then I'll do it all over again in twelve months time. Let's drink to that.
If you like to find out more about George's Brewery beers, or their alter-ego Hop Monster, you can follow this link to their website. If you've read my reviews then I'm sure you'll want to.
Happy drinking, and a very Happy New Year to you all!