The Session #10: Winter Seasonal Beers

The SessionFirst Friday of the month, that means it’s time for The Session again! The Session is where bloggers far and wide all write on a particular topic or theme, related to beer of course.

This month’s theme for The Session is brought to us from Barley Vine:

The theme for this month is Winter Seasonal Beers. This can be any style you want as long as it’s a Winter Seasonal. Don’t limit yourself to just the big heavy beers as so many breweries put out so many different styles there something for everyone.

This month’s topic goes hand-in-hand with my Advent Beer Calendar feature I’m running up until Christmas, so I decided to combine the two topics (so to speak) and review the same beer for The Session that I selected for today’s Advent Calendar beer: Wild Goose Brewery‘s Snow Goose Winter Ale.

Snow Goose Winter AleThe other reason I selected this beer was that Wild Goose very graciously sent me a six-pack of Snow Goose last month, when I had contacted them about their Pumpkin Patch Ale in regards to my Pumpkin Beer Week feature that ran in November (they were out of Pumpkin Patch and sent the Snow Goose in its stead). Since I couldn’t fit Snow Goose in with the pumpkin beers I was writing about, I decided it would be a perfect fit for today’s Session (and Advent Calendar). So, that was a disclaimer in a roundabout way.

Snow Goose is a classic Winter Warmer, an English-style ale brewed strong and malty for the holidays (and colder winter months). At 6.2% alcohol by volume, it doesn’t have the strength of, say, a barleywine, or some of the stronger holiday brews many American brewers have been putting out in recent years—but you won’t even notice. In fact, you might think the alcohol content is even higher; as I wrote on today’s Advent Calendar entry:

Snow Goose is malty, hoppy, sweet and spicy that all blends together into a brandy-like character, something that’s difficult to achieve without higher alcohol levels. It’s a bold beer, very well suited to the cold winter months.

(I added the emphasis here.)

This is a distinctive, delicious Winter Warmer to savor for the holidays. Here are my tasting notes:

Appearance: Nice mahogany brown laced with orange, and a light tan head piled up on top.

Smell: Warm and toasty Crystal malts along with brandied sugars. Alcohol, caramel, dark fruitcake.

Taste: Nicely malty and hoppy both; maltiness is rich with a sweet though not cloying background, hops are dry and spicy and herbally bitter. Alcohol heat, with oaky notes… thinking brandy again. Earthy, a little steely, rock candy, burnt sugars, dark maple (?), charcoal, tannins…

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied, dry and warming. Aftereffects are not unlike a cognac.

On BeerAdvocate, it scores 84 out of 100, with 98% of reviewers giving their approval. On RateBeer, it scores 3.48 out of 5, and is in their 83rd percentile.