This beer is, of course, the company’s annual Christmas beer, available from mid-November through December 25. I received a bottle last month, and popped it open yesterday. This Winter Warmer is 6.84% alcohol by volume and they say:
The busy-as-elves McMenamins brewers have created another wonderful gift for your taste buds this holiday season. The 2015 version of Kris Kringle is a hearty and robust ale with a big and bold malt complexity as well as an intense and flavorful hop profile. This “winter warmer” highlights the rich, toasty, aromatic and chocolaty malt flavors as its very sturdy foundation. Generous amounts of two different hop varieties were added in five different additions, which delivers a magnificent and massive hop assault. There’s still some ginger and cinnamon added into the batch but the spices are a little more subdued than in years’ past. McMenamins brewers hope you enjoy this years’ version of our old Holiday favorite, Kris Kringle. Happy Holidays and a Wonderful New Year!
Appearance: Nut brown in color, with a wispy, light tan head. Nicely clear.
Smell: Leathery, toffee malts, grain dust, dried dark fruits. Reminds me of plum pudding or similarly dark, rich and bready dessert.
Taste: Toasty, tobacco-ish notes from dark and dry malts. Almost-burnt caramel with a touch of huskiness. Dark bread crust, rich, with earthy, spicy hops.
Mouthfeel: Medium-full-bodied with a dry, nutty finish.
Overall: I’d say this leans more towards a chewy English-style ESB (Extra Special Bitter) that a straight Winter Warmer, but either way it’s a tasty beer I enjoy every year. I can’t say for sure but this year’s might be drier than last.
McMenamins Ginger Perry
This is the seasonal cider offering, brewed up at the Edgefield and distributed around the other locations. I don’t know if a perry (essentially cider brewed with pears instead of apples) reads particularly “Christmas” though the spicing does. (And Harry & David always have their holiday baskets filled with pears, so…) I had received an offer for a free growlette (32-ounce growler) of the Perry, as it’s only available on draft.
It’s 6.2% abv and I grabbed this description from the Old St. Francis School page:
Made from freshly pressed and then fermented Perry and Anjou Pears, with fresh pear juice added back in to balance out the acidity. Our perry is richly textured and off-dry, with a zesty dose of fresh ginger to add a spicy zing.
Appearance: Clear, golden-orange-ish color, lightly sparkling with thin bubble trails. I’d almost swear there is a pinkish tinge to it as well.
Smell: Tart, like soured fruit with a touch of vinegar, and a spicy kick reminiscent of pepper and ginger.
Taste: Sweet with a definite sweet pear character, a bit of tart fruit skin at the back of the tongue. The ginger is very mellow, I can taste it but it doesn’t dominate the palate and tends toward the back.
Mouthfeel: Light, crisp, and lightly effervescent.
Overall: Nice, I might prefer a bit more ginger for my taste, but makes for a good digestif.