The first beer blog entry of 2011! How exciting. I am collaborating with Ms. Cynthia Lyons for artistic guidance and creative vision. Her mad camera skillz and my mediocre beer-related wit are sure to please a wide audience of beer blog readers!
I picked up this bottle of Sam Smith’s Winter Welcome Ale
several weeks ago, and had in fact forgotten that it was on the bottom shelf of my freezer until tonight, when I went poking around for a beer to drink and review. I suppose we welcomed winter on December 22, 2010, but it’s still bloody cold here so we’ll just go with it.
If I remember correctly, I purchased it from Whole Foods Market
on Dale Mabry (at which I spend approximately $30 on beer per visit… so my visits are less frequent than I might otherwise desire). I paid $4.19 for this pint, which I suppose is a fair price for a delicious beer. =)
I scooped the bottle out of my fridge and headed to Cindy’s. I popped open the cap and the beer immediately started to foam over; I suppose I shook it a little more than I should have during the route to Cindy’s apartment.
I poured it into a glass tankard (as recommended here
), and got a romantic medium brown color with a reddish tinge. The head, however, was unimpressive and quickly dissolved, leaving no lace behind. Hence the picture… with no head whatsoever. A quick side note: Cindy’s roommate came home after I’d finished my beer and dipped into his own stash of winter ales… one of which happened to be this same brew. He popped his open and got a simply marvelous off-white head about an inch thick. I think my experience with lack-of-head is simply due to my carelessness in the beer’s transport.
This brew smells of malty caramel and… plum, I suppose? Or at least a lovely little dark pitted fruit (or if you are a botanist, a “drupe”). I smell lots of yummy, sweet, and wintery spices coming out on the top of this beer. A nice ginger flavor floats around at the very top. What a deliciously inviting wintery loaf of bread this brew smells like, and it’s reminiscent of wassail, too! Ah — actually yes; I’d say this beer smells a bit like a piece of heavy winter wheat bread or fruit cake, topped with honey and a light dusting of spices on top of that, and baked til everything melded into a lovely homogenous bit of holiday yum. No hoppy smell is present, really, which excites me, even though Sam Smith’s website tells me it’s brewed with Fuggle and Golding hops
. I might even say i smell metal? Weird.
The initial taste is rather on another plane than what the smell implied it would be. I do enjoy the smoothness due to lack of in-your-face hops, but it’s a bit metallic in its aftertaste which is a little uncomfortable for me. I definitely have some of those plums coming through, which is pleasant.
…….Well isn’t this nice — now that I’ve let it warm up a little, I enjoy the flavor more! I thought I was going to be disappointed in this beer but it’s turning out to be lovely. It’s become a bit chewier in its texture, and tastes like i should be eating it with a pot roast and yeast rolls.
I will say that for a winter warmer, the mouthfeel is a little crisper than i expected. The carbonation is high for me… but maybe Sam Smith’s always is? I haven’t had enough of it to know. The malts are what comes out mostly in the mouthfeel, with that little metallic aftertaste at the back of your throat once your swallow it.
As for drinkability, I can’t imagine anyone who couldn’t drink this beer, particularly after it warms just a bit (it seemed to be at its peak flavor about 25 or 30 minutes after i removed it from my refrigerator). The description on the bottle tells me that I should drink it in front of a wintery fireplace while contemplating its nuances and complexities, but i think i’d be just as happy to drink it on an autumn afternoon while having a lighthearted conversation with loved ones on my front porch. It’s nuances and complexities are probably apparent mostly to the English. ;-)
I enjoyed this beer but don’t know that I’d buy it on a yearly basis… last January I reviewed the Scaldis Noel seasonal
. Now that is a beer that I look forward to drinking every winter.