Today we are celebrating Christmas with my wife’s parents and sister. I’m pretty stoked; my gifts are cash and liquor store gift certificates. And before you start judging me, the gift certificates are to support LIBA’s “research”. Silvio is back in the saddle and back to his normal Saturday reviews. He had been down for the count for a couple of weeks courtesy of a nasty cold.
I must apologize to the LIBA faithful for missing my first ever Silvio Saturday last week. I’ve been really sick with an awful cold and I couldn’t drink beer last weekend to review – a travesty if I’ve ever heard of one. Fortunately I’ve recovered somewhat and am able to get back on the horse this week.
I picked up a bunch of winter seasonal brews on my last beer run, intending to run through them, and am finally able to crack a few open. For this review, I’m checking out the Harpoon Winter Warmer and Avery Old Jubilation Ale.
I’ve definitely gotten into winter warmers this year, so I led with the Harpoon. It’s got a really dark copper color and lots of tiny bubbles, but not too much of a foam head. Like most good warmers, the smell is really spicy – I pick up nutmeg and cinnamon. However, this isn’t a typical warmer-tasting brew.
My first taste after the pour came across as really alcoholic, to the point of burning a bit, and not very enjoyable. The lack of spices surprised me, so I decided to let it warm up to room temperature a bit. Turned out to be a good call, because after it got closer to room temperature, the alcohol flavor blends nicely with what you’d expect out of a warmer. Nutmeg and cinnamon blend nicely with a malt backbone, but the alcohol taste still lingers a bit too much for my taste. It’s available from November to January, and has a surprising 5.9% ABV (I honestly thought it’d be way higher).
I’ve developed a bit of a love affair with Avery beers, stemming from my visit to their Boulder, Colorado brewery, and was pleased their Old Jubilation Ale come through like expected. Another beautiful color on the pour, somewhere between mahogany and molasses. It’s got an awesome hue when held up to light. The smell was hard to pinpoint, but I was reminded of a burnt toffee.
Taste-wise, the aroma is very close to the taste. I get lots of toffee on the front, and a ton of malts on the back. The consistency is pretty thick and a little syrupy, but it’s not a detriment. As it warms, the flavor changes a bit and I began to taste more of a caramel or roasted flavor. It’s a little bitter on the end, but very enjoyable. It’s got an 8% ABV, and definitely sneaks up on you! Due to the thickness, I don’t think I could have more than one or two, but this is a beer worth trying.