Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Beerreview: World Market’s Winter 9-Pack à trois

Continuing our theme of sequels always being worse than the original, I bring you part trois of our World Market Winter Pack review. For this week's thrilling conclusion, I intended to review the two beers I thought would be the best, but as is usually the way in any good Ménage à trois: I found a secret last minute surprise. Without slathering on the innuendo too thickly, let's just say a winter warmer was secretly waiting for me: Harpoon Winter Warmer.

My math skills have atrophied to laughable levels and for some reason I thought a review of two beers and a review of four beers left the two best beers for last. Having purchased a nine-pack I should have either felt ripped off, robbed, or stupid, the latter being the case. Let's get down to business with "The Last Two Beers" and "The Secret Surprise."

The Last Two Beers

Rogue - Santa's Private Reserve

I wrote this review after only sampling a single bottle of this, but I have to say it does grow on you. Santa's Private Reserve smells very hoppy but not like citrus. It has a bready or piney smell. The defining characteristic of this beer is that it's very bitter. It's likely the most bitter beer I have ever tasted, but it's been a while since I had a good Stone Double Bastard.

After swallowing this medicine the bitterness fades but leaves behind a slight coppery taste, sort of like that little bit of aluminum foil that sneaks into a hoagie (or grinder, or sub.) If I didn't know better, I'd say that this beer never contained any sugar because of the complete lack of sweetness. It tasted like liquid hops.

That being said, it does pair well with sweet foods. On its own it's hard to take but it's worth a try. I don't know what makes it a Christmas beer honestly. If you really love hops I can recommend this, but if you have a sweeter palette I'd stay away.

Troegs - Mad Elf

Billed as "Ale Brewed with Honey and Cherries," this ale does not disappoint. At 11% ABV, it's definitely one of the stronger Christmas ales produced by a smallish American craft brewery. Like most high ABV beers and dessert martinis, it has to be sweetened heavily to overcome the alcohol flavor but in this case (unlike Sam Adam's Cherry Wheat) it doesn't taste cheap.

Mad Elf has a malty sweet smell and pours golden with a good head. The honey flavor comes through strongly with the taste of sour cherry. What is noticeable about the cherry is that it doesn't smell artificial (like Luden's cough drops.) It smells more like a real cherry pie (which is often a little sour,) although I doubt many people make those anymore. Gas station fruit pies and frozen corn syrup concoctions have probably filled that niche now, but I digress.

The taste is like a sweet mead with almost no bitterness, but like other strong beers the alcohol is present (sort of like Molsen XXX honestly.) The bottom line is that this beer is sweet, spicy, and delicious but would definitely not go with food.

The Secret Surprise

Harpoon - Winter Warmer

I once bought a case of this beer years ago since it was the first novelty holiday beer I saw at the gas station (before my beer enlightenment.) It hung around until February, and I wasn't really in the mood for holiday spices anymore. That should tell you something about my expectations when I found this hidden bottle lurking around the refrigerator.

This beer has a very strong spice smell, mostly of nutmeg and allspice. It's sort of like the Rite Aid brand Yankee Candle knock-offs, where they have the gist of the smell but it's somehow cheap seeming. winter Warmer tastes like pumpkin pie spice with a shallow bitter aftertaste; it's sort of like somebody stirred your Molsen with a crusty pumpkin pie knife. The taste is mostly spices, and not beer.
The bottom line with this beer is that it's not as bad as I remembered. I don't recommend it, but it beats dirty dish water in the desert.

I'm not really sure what to post for next week, feel free to make suggestions in the comments below.

1 comment:

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