Christmas beers… in a tree! Wychwood’s Bah Humbug and Shepherd Neame’s Christmas Ale


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Tis the season to be jolly, falalalala lalala. Christmas is coming, it’s been a long year. This time of year is always fine. Baking, putting up the tree, buying the little ones their gift and… enjoying Christmas beers.

My intention was to post this at the beginning of December as I was waiting on a few more beers to pop up on shelves but unfortunately, I fell short of an assortment. Here is why… I read an article several weeks back that explained how Toronto was very limited in beers. How this underground “club” gathered in basements and tried different beers that can’t be found in Ontario’s Beer Store and the LCBO. I was surprised. I though the LCBO was quite rich in selection and quite diverse but truth be told, I was waiting on several different beers to get here this Christmas and I only found the two. I have no choice but to agree with the writer of this article. First, I agree that despite its okay selection, the LCBO falls short of many Christmas beers. Second, when you have an ipad with Zite as an app and beer is one of the subjects you subscribed to, you see how huge is the amount of beers, whose brewer I never even knew existed. So now, I need to travel the world for beers but in the meantime, I’ll find out where this secret society of beer aficionados meet and, switch blade in hand, I am prepared to draw blood in exchange for my subscription…

So here it is folks, my two (and only) Christmas beer review.

Shepherd Neame Christmas Ale

LOOK: This fine beer poured reddish copper and left a descent amount of tan head that slowly disappeared leaving behind good lacing.

SMELL: The smell of this ale takes me back to the awful fruit cakes my mother would buy from the Lion’s Club only the smell in this case is fantastic. I couldn’t eat one slice of that fruit cake but I’d drink more than one of these babies in one night. Ad a caramel coulis to this cake and you’ve got this beer’s smell; Malts, butterscotch and dried fruits.

TASTE: Much like the smell, dried fruits, citric with sour fruits like green apples or cherry come through and all are well balanced with butterscotch. The malts come through very well and all of the flavors take turns. A little bit of spices came through, maybe not enough for a Christmas / Winter beer.

FINISH: The finish had sweeter malt tones and a slightly stronger alcohol kick. Overall, the flavors maintained a good balance throughout the consumption.

BODY: Good carbonation and medium feel. The butterscotch gave it a nice creaminess.

CONTEXT: For a Christmas, it’s not bad. As mentioned in the taste section, it could have had a little more of a spice kick.

Pairing: Bakes and what else… let me see… turkey? Duh!

Score: 78%

Price: $3.50 (500ml)

Beer type: Winter beer

Alcohol/Vol.: 7%

Brewery: Shepherd Neame

Country / Region: UK

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Bah Humbug

Wychwood Brewery does spooky well. I love their branding. This beer was no different from the others. What I mean by that is a shallow observation that the label almost makes it taste better. But seriously folks, don’t worry, I reviewed it with the same objectivity as always…

LOOK: It poured nice dark amber with head that was slightly paler than Shepherd Neame’s. Left good lacing behind and lasted a while.

SMELL: I’m going to lie to you; I wish stronger flavors came out in the nose. Hints of caramel, some spice and malts were present along with hints of fruits like bananas.

TASTE: This is where this beer gets interesting. The caramel flavors really came out and tied everything together. Hints of banana, dried fruits such as prunes and a blend of spice like cinnamon make for a great mix. At the very least, maybe it was too sweet. A great beer overall

FINISH: Finishes on a bit of a bitter note. As the beer warms up, you realize that it’s probably a little better when not freezing cold. Let it sit for 15 minutes before opening it.

CONTEXT: I like my winter / Christmas beers a little stronger in alcohol. It keeps you warm! So with a 5% abv, it lost a couple of points, but overall it’s a very fine Christmas beer.

Pairing: Bakes and what else… let me see… turkey? Duh!

Score: 80%

Price: $3.50 (500ml)

Beer type: Winter warmer

Alcohol/Vol.: 5%

Brewery: Wychwood Brewery

Country / Region: UK

That’s it. Tune in in a few days for 2 more Pumpkin beers, two more Poland beers and a couple of Winter beers that are out of this world!!

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