Yesterday, I poured an X-Mas Ale 2009, an X-Mas Ale 2010, an X-Mas Ale 2011, and, yes, an X-Mas Ale 2012 from the SheppyBrew brewery.
They are all relatively high in alcohol with a dark brown color and substantial body and head. Visually, it is amazing how close they are.
|Left to right 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012.|
This was the last of 2009. The X-Mas Ale 2009 is the oldest beer I've ever tried from the SheppyBrew Brewery. It was past its prime, but I think it held up well and would be proud to serve this to anyone. It still has a nice cherry back-ground flavor. It is a nice beer with some clove flavor complimenting the rich caramel malt. I don't think I would be able to pick out the rest of the spices (Almond Extract, Vanilla Extract, Cinnamon) without knowing the recipe.
2010 was my favorite this year (with the possible exception of 2012). I really got the cherry flavor. I don't think I picked up the apple pie spice. It was so smooth and wonderful. It had a wonderful dark caramel malt backbone which melded perfectly with the cherries.
The "special" flavor in the 2011 X-Mas Ale was Hazelnut extract in the bottling. I've mentioned before that the hazelnut is a bit "Jeckle and Hyde" for me. Some days I really like it. Some days I really don't. Yesterday I didn't really like it. In fact, I poured out the last little bit. 4 high-alcohol beers is a bit much and I figured if I didn't totally enjoy it, why subject myself the the flavor.
X-Mas Ale 2012 was awesome. I keep telling myself that it should be "Jeckle and Hyde" as well, but every time I try it, I like it. This is one of those beer that seems to get better and better. Even more awesome about his beer is that the SheppyBrew Beer Model seems to really like it as well. This is the first X-Mas ale that she has really given her endorsement to. I know peppermint is a bit weird in a beer, but it tastes really really good. I call it my Chocolate Candy Cane, because that is what it makes me think of. It certainly is not a session beer, and I have told people not to drink it in the middle of they day. Treat it like a dessert beer. . For one thing, it is over 8% ABV. For another, it tastes like peppermint, which just is not right for a session beer.
I'm not sure I'll be able to handle much bigger of a vertical tasting. Luckily (as I mentioned), this the the last of 2009. Four 12 oz bottles of relatively high ABV (5.7%, 6.55%, 7.9 %, 8.3%) is a bit much to drink, even for a big guy like me. Next year will be another 4 beer vertical tasting. But, at this point I have another 4 bottles of 2010, and 5 of 2011. This means that in 2016, I should have 7 beers to try. 7 is too many to try in one sitting, so I am going to have to figure out some different format for my tasting.
Anyway, it is pretty awesome that I can do this. I am looking forward to next year's vertical tasting.
Go Bears. Believe it or not, this weekend I also want the Packers to win.