This past holiday season was the first year I remember seeing Goose Island Christmas Ale available here in Bend, and was also the first beer I picked for last year’s Advent Calendar—needless to say, it was one I knew I had to try (and had been wanting to for a while). Goose Island is old-school about their Winter Warmers: they change up the recipe every year.
Every year to celebrate the holiday season, we brew up our Christmas Ale, and with each year we change the recipe slightly so that you have something special to look forward to. Traditionally, our Christmas Ale is a complex brown ale that develops well in the bottle for up to five years.
The 2009 vintage was 5.7% alcohol by volume and, I have to say, lived up to its reputation.
Appearance: Hazy amber-brown with two fingers of light tan head.
Smell: Sugary with burnt toffee and hints of spices; a touch of roast and caramel malts.
Taste: Sweet and caramel-rich, slightly buttery. Very tasty, reminds me of rich candies—not quite bon-bons, more caramlized sugars and nuts. Spicy aftertaste, kind of mace-y or clovey.
Mouthfeel: A bit fuller than medium-bodied, with a sticky-sweet presence.
Overall: Very good, way too easy to drink and the candy body steals the show.