Saturday, 27 December 2014

Christmas Ale: OMG!

I know, I know, I usually only post reviews on a Thursday and a Sunday. But, this year, I thought I'd try and review more than my usual amounts of ale. Plus, this is another specifically Christmas ale and so it would be churlish not to review it over the Christmas season. I refer, of course, to the other offering by Thwaites of Old Miserable Git. I saw someone reviewing it as being a good ale last night on the intertubes and thought I would also partake, having seen it locally.

Thus, despite snow and ice on the roads, I went out to pick it up and promptly had it in order to review. Also, to try and balance the disappointment of the Snowman's Revenge (here). Would you like to know more?

First off, the bottle was transported and drunk in short order. It had been stood in a very warm place and then carried back in my rucksack. The outside temperature was below freezing and so I had assumed that it would be chilled upon my return. I was partly correct. It had been through sudden changes in temperature and so the bottle fizzed over. However, I rapidly got it into a glass, losing maybe 50ml to the fizz, and all was well. Malts dominate the nose, with some fruity citrus hops atop that and the benefit of yeast sparkling through the aroma. It pours with a good chestnut depth, lovely and brown, but remains firmly in the 'amber' camp. Hard to place individual hops, I'm sure that I could given more practice, but mainly it was a nice nose overall. In the process of taking pictures (both of which were awful, the best is above) the head reduced to a small skein of froth.

First taste was had with some haste after that, in order to avoid the disappointment of Snowman's Revenge and also to try and capture the full taste before the fizz took it. I needn't have worried. It is a full mouthful, opening with strong hops that are speared through with shots of yeast thrust forward like the spears in an Ancient Greek phalanx facing down Persian hordes across the desert of the Middle East - but with a hint of moisture on the air to prefigure the rains rather than the dry sandy winds of a blonde. The malt acts as a bedrock, nothing special but doing the job that a malt ought to do, and then it rolls around to the endgame. One by one those spearmen turn away and leave the field to the blowing wind and the swaying grasses of the land around. Into this there are the bitter tears of the widows emblazoned in the bittering hops, slowly coming to a softer and maltier ending, in the almshouses of the villages that provided the Hoplites, where they toast a victory in the warm fires of the inns. Here we find the soft and malty aftertaste that fades slowly like the party of which it is part.

Further tastes and sips remain the same in that they are good hoppy openers and then are followed by a strong and sensible malt with a decent aftertaste. It's not the greatest ale ever produced by Thwaites (or most brewers) but it is decent and puts me in mind of the Original (here) that they do. I suspect that it may actually be just their normal ale in a more Christmassy jacket, and there's nowt wrong with that. There's nothing particularly special about this brew but nor is there anything wrong with it and so it is the perfect Christmas ale as it doesn't need it's own space, nor it's own place, it just sits alongside everything else and won't be forced into the background. At 4.1% ABV it's not the sort to result in a headache, but nor is it the sort to be lost in the milling and the busy-ness either. Not a bad amount of alcohol, truth be told.

Enjoy this pretty much anywhere but, if it must be a Christmastide, then ensure that there is tinsel sparkling on the tree, snow crunching underfoot and twinkling lights draped over the trees and houses of the neighborhood. Turn on the TV, watch some repeats and complain about the fact that there's nowt new on the telly whilst pointing out which actors are now dead between sips. Take your time, you're not going anywhere, and find excuses not to help with the washing up.

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