When you get twelve ales for Christmas and they're all themed there's not much else you can do but drink them quickly. If, like me, you are boring and enjoy blogging the ales then you also need to get yourself into the blogging sharpish too. Thus it is that I find myself on the second ale of many this Christmas-tide: Cwrw-istmas by Brecon Brewing Company and I find myself quite looking forward to it!
It has been a good couple of days, and it looks like it shall be a good few more with Game of Thrones season 6 on DVD and a good ale on hand... Yes, that is a toilet roll off to the left, we ran out of tissues, what of it? Would you like to know more?
Straight away this announced itself as a Christmas ale through the fact that it smelt, well, like Christmas. It reminded me of Boxing Day meals in my youth - all turkey and chips with gravy and peas and various types of vegetables. A savoury smell in the kitchen wreathed in steam and condensation on the windows 'gainst the frosty cold outside. Raised voices, mostly in jest, and the edge in the air. But, underneath all of that, or on top in the living room, was the smell of spices and orange and cloves that came from the air fresheners - or, later, the kind of smell I associate with high Church of England, almost like incense. I can't speak for anyone else but that is the impression that I gained from the aroma of this rather surprisingly rich and strong chestnut ale. Good head on the pour, frothy and fizzy like spirits at the end of the Boxing Day sales. I assume, I have never really been one for Boxing Day sales.
I did go shopping today, for emergency cake, but it was hardly sales shopping. Nor real shopping come to think of it. The dark brown body of this ale was enough to put to rest the moving about and carry the brew over into an episode of Game of Thrones (I am late to the party as ever and thus used the velvet richness of the malt to cover the sadness of Hodor's tale). Indeed, this opens with that clove-induced cinnamon that one usually find abundant at this time of year, as the grandparents and parents argue over the order of cooking and TV watching, who gets to control the volume and the temperature. That kind of thing. The warmth was thus something to be savoured and over-rode the hops that usually would be riding the wave. It's not that there wasn't a hoppy core to that opening, just that it was very much in second place to that clove and spice aspect that made the maltiness of the middle so appealing. I think they've done a really good job here of making the whole thing rather smooth and easily transitioned from one part of the taste to the next. At 4.2% ABV this is a nice ale to be sessioning after a long day helping the Boy make his Lego sets too.
Reading the label I am informed that there is vanilla in this and I think I can catch it on the crest of the breeze blowing into the latter part of the taste and then it lingers, soft and pungent, on the cusp of the aftertaste. Then we're back to the memory of the spice and the dry aftertaste of the passing, a proper pale ale in that regard despite the hue. Very Welsh, being a hybrid of a number of different styles that feel as though they ought not to work together but then do surprisingly well. Well, no, I've heard only good things about Brecon and everyone raves about them when I see them on tap and so I shouldn't be terribly surprised. Not even Jorah confessing his obvious and doomed love for the Essex girl Targaryen can really surpass the overall impression from this rather stout-hearted light ale.
Enjoy best in a brace with the sort of meal that usually appears on a Sunday - a roast with lashings of gravy. True enough, you can have this after dinner with the chocolate truffles, so indulgent, but it would work just as well in the late autumn or early spring mixed with beef, gravy and Yorkshire pudding just so. Could be a great accompaniment to the wonder of Lancashire hotpot, so long as there's a helping of pickled onion, but as a Christmas ale this does the job nicely too. It's the sort of gift that you could keep around for a while before consuming and not feel like there had been too much sacrificed in so doing.