This year I have decided to forgo the advent calendar and join the Beer O’clock Show’s 12 beers of Xmas. I will be starting mine early (ie tomorrow with my 12th beer being on Christmas day) as the normal dates don’t fit in my with Christmas plans. Basically you pick 12 really special beers and have one each day. I can’t decide which ones to pick (It’s like picking your favourite child I’d guess) so, to make it fun, I am going to draw my beers from out of a santa hat. I’ve picked 60 beers which I think are worthy of being part of it and have numbered them accordingly. I’m actually very excited about this. I’ll be posting little videos of the draw and revealing the bottles behind the numbers on Instagram (KatrinnaSewell) and updating this post everyday with the results. You can also follow the hashtag #12beersofxmas on Twitter.
Beer 1 – Owa Brewery Ume Lambic
So I pulled out number 15 from the hat which was Owa’s Ume Lambic. Owa are based in Belgium brewing Japanese inspired lambics. The Ume is a variety of plum which are a lot more tart than traditional plums, they are usually pickled in Japan. I came across Owa when I was looking into places in Brussels where my friend Emmy could kill some time (other than Cantillon). Emmy attempted to get me a bottle from Delices and Caprices but alas they were closed. A few weeks later I found them online.
This is stunning, you get a syrupy plum at the start then the acidity washes over you. I will endeavour to seek out more of their beers.
Beer 2 – Dugges Jamaica 2000
I got this beer from The Beer Shop in Nunhead a few weeks ago. It’s a big, spiced rum heavy, barleywine with a lot of wood up front. Very much a sipper.
Beer 3 – Oud Beersel Bersalis oak aged Tripel 2015
From what I can remember of the blurb, this is a tripel aged in oak chateauneuf du pape barrels which goes through a secondary spontaneous fermentation. It’s incredibly balanced for its complexity. You get a lovely tripel flavour which changes into an apricot and lemon laden geuze. The surprise is the 10.5% abv, definitely doesn’t feel like it when it goes dpwn. I bought this at De Hop Duvel in Ghent because it was quite cheap and sounded interesting. I will definitely pick up more if I see it again.
Beer 4 – Windswept Brewing Co Wolf of Glen Moray Port Cask Finish
The original version of this beer is my favourite scotch ale. So when I found out they’d have this one at Craft Beer Rising, buying it was the first thing I did when I got there. I find a lot of scotch ales have that alcohol burn but this has none, it’s got a strong vanilla finish and just makes me feel all warm and fuzzy. My Scottish ancestors are from Moray going way back to the 1700s, perhaps I should go visit sometime.
Beer 5 – Omnipollo Noa Pecan Mud Cake double barrel
If you’ve ever smelt this beer you’ll understand the above photo. Never has a beer bought me so much joy just from the smell alone. It always makes me giggle. Noa is one of my favs and this is the double barrel version. I purchased this in The Bottle Shop. I’m getting more of the Cognac barrel since I last drank it, along with some acidity and berry notes. It’s a bit like when you have raspberries and dark chocolate.
Beer 6 – Prairie Gold
Prairie Gold is a saison fermented with ale yeast, wine yeast, lacto and brett. Considering its contents, it is a masterclass in balance and harmony. If only all sour beers were like this. It’s dry from the saison but you can definitely pick out the acidity from the lacto and the brett characters. There’s lemon, grape and wheat notes and I bloody love it. Only let down was that it was a bit too eager to get out of the bottle and onto my kitchen floor. I bought this bottle from Beergium in their Black Friday sale. Not usually into Black Friday but hey cheap American sours!
Beer 7 – De struise Pannepot Grand Reserva 2009
I bought this beer last time I was in Belgium. De Struise’s beers were hard to come by (except the fuckoff overpriced Black Damnation series) but I was tipped off that I could get them in Ypres (thanks whoever that was). Sure enough, in an unassuming chocolate gift shop in Ypres, were Black Albert, Blue Monk and copious versions of Pannepot at very very good prices.
This is the Grand Reserve version from 2009. It’s aged in oak for 24 months with 10 months of this being Calvados barrels. It’s probably the best Pannepot I’ve had, bursting with dried fruit, vanilla and boozy calvados goodness it was a proper Christmas treat. Yum yum.
Beer 8 – Siren Maiden 2014
So today I pulled a Siren Maiden out of Santa’s hat. This is 2014’s edition and I have absolutely no idea how it got in my house, it just seemed to appear one day (ie I probably bought this when I was hammered). Basically, Maiden is a barleywine which is split into many different barrels then reblended after a year. I heard mixed things about this but time has been kind to it. There’s no big alcohol burn, just sweet brandy snaps filled with whiskey cream flavours. A lovely drop, well done drunk me.
Beer 9 – Brekeriet Sour Brown
This one got mixed reviews amongst the people I shared it with. I personally was not a fan as I found it had an almost mushroom, soil type taste.
Beer 10 – Mad Hatter Salted Caramel Quad
Well this is tasty. You get your usual quad with a lovely smack of salt and a caramel mouthfeel. I got this in the Imperial Beer Club box. I’m a fan of Mad Hatter and wish more places in London would stock them.
Beer 11 – Alvinne/Insight Brewing Sour’ire de Mortagne
This is a sour barrel aged quad with smoked peaches. I bought this from etre gourmet at the same time as the Ume lambic because I couldn’t resist that description. It’s initially sweet with vanilla and peach then smokey and then the acidity kicks in. Very enjoyable.
Beer 12 – Borg Surtur 30.1
I first had Surtur in a bar in Reykjavik. Simon paid £20 for the bottle and it was worth every penny. Surtur 30 is an imperial stout smoked in a traditional sheep dung house. I didn’t know this at the time but even still it was my favourite beer all trip. Surtur 30.1 is aged in Brennivin barrels. Brennivin is an Icelandic caraway spirit. It’s very marmite but I happen to like it. The smoke makes way for the booze in this one. I bought this through 101 Reykjavik and you can now get more of Borg’s beers in Royal Mile Whiskeys in Bloomsbury.