Christmas Beer Tasting Session – 14th December 2012 – #SeasonsTweetings

Seasonal beers I have to admit don’t really rock my boat, in fact I’d go as far as saying they  get right on my tits..

I’m not talking about beers suited to actual “seasons”, I quite look forward to the gradual change in emphasis from light and hoppy through to dark and heavy as the cold nights draw in and the heating is cranked up. I’m actually pointing a pudgy finger right at those bandwagon jumpers, you know the sort, anything remotely spooky at Halloween and such like.

It’s a similar story at Christmas, hand-pulls are tackily decked with pump-clips emblazoned with red-nosed beardy fat men, elves bottoms and buxom ladies with a sprig of holly tucked in their over exaggerated collectively heaving cleavages. With quite often lack lustre offerings the result in the glass, usually brown-black and stinking of nutmeg and cinnamon. Voilà, Christmas beer see, it says so on there, just above the comedy robin.

IMG_5143At Christmas though there is a rather pleasant side effect to this deluge or mediocrity in that it’s time to bring out some absolute classics, beers that although the stout-hearted drink year round, are just so much nicer in December and onwards to the spring time thaw.

IMG_5136So I’ve decided to put on my Hash-tag Activists virtual sandwich board again and organise another tasting session focussing (for me personally) on a few of my favourites. I’m hoping though that after reading what other people are up to, I can get a few more little gems to stick on my Christmas list. I’d be particularly interested in UK brewery’s offerings that you think buck that trend and are absolutely unmissable?


I’ve listed a few beers I’d recommend trying below, most I admit will need a visit to a decent beer shop to find, be that local or online, but none are overly rare either and should be readily available. As normal though I’d urge anyone to add further suggestions in comments too. If you are still struggling though, supermarkets will all have something and as a last resort wrap a bit of tinsel around a bottle of whatever you have and join in the fun.

  • Gouden Carolus – ChristmasIMG_5139
  • Anchor – Christmas Ale
  • De Dolle – Stille Nacht
  • Mikkeller – Santas Little Helper
  • St Bernardus – Christmas
  • Port Brewing Co – Santas Little Helper (copyright?)
  • Gordon Xmas
  • Mikkeller – Hoppy Lovin Christmas
  • Evil Twin – Before, During and After Christmas (Impy IPA)
  • The Bruery – Four Calling Birds
  • La Rulles – Cuvee Meilleus Voeux (made with Orval yeast)st-bernardus-xmas
  • Kloster Andechs – Doppelbock Dunkel
  • Williams Brewery – Nollaig
  • Art Brew – Christmas Tree Beer
  • Delirium Christmas
  • Bristol Beer Factory – Twelve Stouts of Christmas

To stress, as always these are ideas only, no pressure at all to gather them all or indeed any, it’s meant to be a fun way to discover new beers and maybe styles you’ve not tried before. There are a few different takes Christmas above and although dark and rich dominates, there is the odd hoppy number in there too, get what you can and get stuck in.

Looking for stockists, there are links to the online purveyors of fine beers I use below, but please make sure you are kind to your local beer stores too. 

IMG_5141So how do I join in?

Open a Christmas themed beer at any point during Friday 14th December, no time limits apply as folks from all over the world join in when suits and as time zones apply. Use the #SeasonsTweetings hash-tag and tell us what you are up to. Organise tasting sessions with your friends, family, partner or maybe just go to the pub, what ever applies.

So, three things to remember, beers, Friday 14th December and the #SeasonsTweetings hash-tag..

IMG_5140See you then, cheers.

Introducing, Project “Time Capsule”

I’ve been wanting to do this for a while but have never managed to get round to it, start to age some beers that is. It’s taken so long for two reasons really, time and lack of it, plus the fact that I’ve never had enough beers that fit the bill around long enough to start..

So to start the ball well and truly rolling, this month I placed an order which included a few extras so that I could taste specific beers fresh, then set another aside for the ageing process. These have joined others that I have amassed and set aside over the last 6 months. Finally though, I am able to introduce you to, project “Time Capsule

It’s nothing to look at I know, just an old beer delivery box, but once filled, sealed and placed in a coolish dark place, I’m confident that it should provide a decent enough environment which is about as close as I can get to a real beer cellar.

For those who have not ever tried this before, I am reliably informed that basically you just need somewhere with a pretty constantly cool temperature without too much fluctuation. It also needs to be dark or at least certainly not in sunlight to prevent the beers getting light-struck.

Beer choices are partly trial and error and some through research. Some beers suit ageing better than others, high alcohol Belgian Trappist beers for example, but avoid anything light and hoppy as they really need to be drunk fresh. I’ve thrown a few in here that may not really fit the bill but as it’s a first time attempt then I’ll learn as I go.

So what’s in the box so far?

6 x Westvleteren 12

2 x Orval, Rochefort 10, Chimay Blue, Hoegaarden Grand Cru.

Large bottles of Achel Bruin Extra, St Bernadus 12 and St Bernadus Christmas, De Glazen Toren Canaster Winterscotch, Leffe Christmas  and Gouden Carolus Cuvee Van Der Kieser.

Then single small bottles of Goose Island Pepe Nero, Samuel Smiths Imperial Stout, Kapitel Prior, De Halve Maan Straffe Hendrick Quadruppel, Sierra Nevada Bigfoot, Thornbridge St Petersburg, St Bernadus 12, Robinsons Chocolate Tom and finally a Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout (the last two are not pictured).

The list is by no means a closed book, I intend to add to it as I go on and obviously drink some in time as this becomes a living beast. Each bottle that goes in is labelled with the date it was bought or roughly at least, so that in a few years time I can keep track of how long each beer has been kept. Willpower depending…. 🙂

I’d definitely be interested in comments and suggestions from beer enthusiasts, brewers, publicans etc, in fact anyone really with knowledge or experience to share as to how you think this will work out, have I made any glaring errors for example.

Are there any MUST HAVE beers that just have to go into the box (there are a few already in mind)?

Are there any beers already in there that you just know already are not going to improve and I may as well just enjoy now?

How long, is too long (or not long enough)?

I am learning here, so any input will be gratefully received..

Wish me luck…

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