Sunday, December 25, 2011

FatCat's Merry Freakin' Christmas!

What is Fat Cat’s favorite holiday season?  If you guessed Fourth of July you are close.  For those of you who guessed Christmas you are absolutely correct.  If you couldn’t tell by my minimal blog posts for December, I’ve been busy preparing for the holiday season.  (Well that and hunting down bourbon and/or imperial stouts Rambo style.  I should have saved more money for this season.)  My plan was to try as many of the winter/Christmas brews as I could and post the Naughty and Nice list on the blog.  I have failed miserably on this mission and will now resort to one big post in my attempt to wish all the Fat Catians out there a very Merry Christmas.

It seems winter/Christmas brews tend to go one of two routes, the fresh hop/IPAs or the spiced winter warmer style brew.  As I may have mentioned earlier a hoppy IPA in winter seems outside the realm of logic.  However, if you want to use the freshest hops picked in October you have to make your brews at that time.  The outcome is winter brews with enough hop character to satisfy the biggest hibernating hop heads.  What is my idea of the quintessential winter/Christmas brew?  Sweet with a hint of cinnamon is my answer.  That doesn’t mean I won’t enjoy the hoppier offerings.  Off to FatCat’s workshop!

The Christmas Tree – Breckenridge Christmas Ale
This brew is very piney in taste and with a little bit of bitterness.  This brew is big at 7.4% ABV and is very affordable.  This brew can be the backbone to your holiday celebration just like your trustee Christmas tree.

The Fireplace – Sam Adams Holiday Porter
While this brew is chilled it has substantial bitterness in its finish.  Let it warm up and you are rewarded with a wonderful malt sweetness accompanying the bitterness.  The malt character is somewhat smoky with a hint of chocolate towards the end.  So lay next to the Holiday Porter and warm your toes in the cold winter months.

The Plaza Lights – Boulevard Nutcracker Ale
If there is anything more of a staple for Kansas City in Christmas it is Nutcracker.  Many people proclaim serious love for this brew.  Super Dave wanted to go Black Ops when we went to the Boulevard Brewing Co. tour and dive into the entire vat of Nutcracker.  This brew relies on some bready malt character with some citrus hop flavor in the finish.  As it warms the hop flavor starts to turn a little earthy.  Not bad Boulevard, not bad.

A White Christmas - Sam Adams Winter Lager
I mentioned earlier a semi-sweet beer with some cinnamon character is what I think of if you mention a Christmas beer.  What else comes immediately to mind when you mention Christmas?  Snow!  Winter Lager is subtly sweet with a good cinnamon finish.  There is not overwhelming sweetness in this one but it does have some grainy malt character to give this brew some complexity.  This brew is not over the top but does nail my essentials for a good Christmas brew.  Winter Lager is FatCat’s white Christmas.

The Angel – Old Fezziwig
This is my absolute favorite brew of the Christmas season.  I love you Old Fezziwig will you marry me?  This is the bigger brother to the Winter Lager with more sweetness and wonderful deep cinnamon character.  This one also has some orange peel in it that supplements the cinnamon character perfectly.  Just like the finishing touch of your Christmas tree, Old Fezziwig is the finishing touch to the winter season.

Socks – Sam Smith Winter Welcome
I read in another blog that this was the number one Christmas brew.  I tried this brew and it was OK but not what I expected.  It was like a brown ale with some spice on the end of the palate.  Everything was subdued and nothing really stood out.  It just didn’t seem as interesting as some of the other holiday offerings.  This brew is just like receiving socks as a present, they are functional just not exciting.

The Lump of Coal – Summit Winter Ale
Summit has been impressive with everything I’ve tried so far.  I was excited about trying this one but it was rather bland.  It is very Porter-esque with some roasted malt bitterness and graininess.  My big gripe is how thin the body of this brew is.  It throws everything out of whack.

The Family Get-Together Argument – Sam Adams Chocolate Bock
Here’s is where I eat my words.  I made a rant about chocolate in the thinner bock beers and how much they don’t go together.  Well when I was ranting I forgot how much I like Sam Adams Chocolate Bock.  It is very chocolately like the others but this brew seems to have enough body to make it have less of the chocolate milk mentality.  Perhaps it’s because it comes in a 12oz bottle and you drink it in one motion.  Like a big holiday family feud I eat my words on a previous argument and really enjoy this brew.

Your friends awesome present that you wished you got – Bridgeport Ebenezer Ale
I didn’t try this one but Super Dave said it was awesome.  Some guys have all the luck.

The last piece of pie you shouldn’t have eaten – Weston’s Winter Warmer
This brew is super sweet with huge spice character on the finish.  I immediately compared this brew to the over the top sweetness/spiciness of pumpkin beers in the fall.  Just like your first bite of pie, the sweetness is welcoming.  By the time you stuff your pie whole to the brim, you are sick of the sweet pie character.  By the time you get to the bottom of this Winter Warmer, you feel the same way.

Left over Christmas Dinner – Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale
I reviewed this brew earlier and it was good but very hoppy.  This is one of the fresh hop ales and it will punch you in the face with hop character.  I revisited this brew after I first reviewed it and it has grown on me exponentially.  Without my sweet/cinnamon expectation in the way, this brew is beautifully bitter.  Like Christmas dinner it tasted ok the first day but for some reason the leftovers on the day after Christmas are awesome.  What is it about leftovers when you are home in your underwear which makes them so magical?  Some mysteries may never be solved. 

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.


  1. Honestly, I'm not that crazy about the Bridgeport Ebenezer. However, it's cheap and decent.

    One of my favorite winter beers is the Great Divide Hibernation Ale. It's delicious (sweet and malty, but not overly so on either one), and over 9 percent ABV. An excellent combination.

  2. I broke down and bought a sixer of the Hibernation Ale. Only 2 of the bottles survived the weekend. That stuff is indeed tasty.