I hope that everyone is excited for the weekend. Given that last weekend I was either sick or caring for a sick baby, I’m excited to have a full weekend of feeling well and enjoying time with family and friends. It’s a busy time of year for everyone. Holiday parties abound, visits with family, holiday trips and all the like. I just want to take a moment to wish everyone a Happy Holidays and to encourage you to be safe over this holiday season.
Today is day 15 of the craft beer advent calendar. It comes to us from Crazy Mountain Brewing Company out of Colorado. It is a Winter Warmer they’ve aptly called their Bridge Street Holiday Ale. It is a Winter Warmer that has been spiced using holiday spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger) as well as Maple Syrup.
Founded in 2010 by Kevin and Marisa Selvy, Crazy Mountain is the first production brewery to be opened in the Vail Valley and is headquartered in Edwards with a second location in the Bakers Neighbourhood of Denver. The mountain lifestyle is pervasive in this brewery. They’ve been known to close shop early to hit the runs and bring a laid-back mindset to what they do. They are interested in making interesting and tasty beers without getting bogged down in the grind.
They’ve made a little video that talks about the brewery and I encourage you to take a watch rather then read me write about it. You can find that here.
The style today is a Winter Warmer. While not really a “style” Winter Warmers tend to fall under the British Strong Ale style. Even so, Winter Warmers are malty sweet offerings and tend to be a favorite winter seasonal. Big malt presence, both in flavor and body. The color ranges from brownish reds to nearly pitch black. Hop bitterness is generally low, leveled and balanced, but hop character can be pronounced. Alcohol warmth is not uncommon.
Many English versions contain no spices, though some brewers of spiced winter seasonal ales will slap “Winter Warmer” on the label. Those that are spiced, tend to follow the “wassail” tradition of blending robust ales with mixed spices, before hops became the chief “spice” in beer. The “American” varieties have a larger presence of hops both in bitterness and flavor. This Winter Warmer uses a variety of spices combined with maple syrup. I can expect it to have a nice spice presence with a pronounced sweetness.
Appearance – Pours the colour of caramel with a thin 1” head that leaves just a bit of froth on the top.
Smell – Those spice notes come through strong. All I get is the nutmeg, a bit of ginger, and tinge of cinnamon.
Taste – On the taste I get a slight astringent/metallic taste right on the front followed by a powerful ginger note. All I taste after that is a bitter ginger finish.
Mouth feel – Slightly metallic front, spice middle, and bitter finish.
Overall – While certainly a spiced ale, this one brings a bit too much of the spice and bit too little of the ale. While I get the carbonation, the subtle bitterness and slight caramel malt notes, the front and centre star is the ginger. While this is appropriate for a spiced beer, overall that’s pretty much all I get.
Do I like it? – I found this to be a bit too much on the spice front. I like spice in beer but not when it is the only taste you are really getting. Granted, this is a spiced beer, spice should be expected, but for me it wasn’t something I enjoyed.