Thanks to Joshua Schipp for getting a 4 pack of this Goose Island Christmas Ale on Friday night for our weekly beer tasting. We had a good turnout with numerous Christmas ales, including Schlafly's (thank you Matt Bowman) and Bell's. Tasted Sunday afternoon following a quick 16 miler at just over 6 flat pace and while waiting to make our way to the MUGZ Christmas party. No longer sold in bomber's, I find myself enjoying the new look and 12Oz size.
Appearance: Deep roasted chestnut brown with a glowing red hue. The overall texture of the beer is hazed but evenly distributed. The head is a light adobe white but is quick to dissipate leaving a cascaded film across the surface of the beer. Lacing is wet and the beer is rather still in the glass.
Aroma: Perfumy and spiced, yet toasted and sweet. I pick up spices of cinnamon, orange peel, but also brown sugar and plums. Malt base is rich of toffee, and caramel. Even faint notes of chocolate
Taste: Brown sugar and sweet kilned barley are immediately prominent in the foretaste of the beer. The malt base is well balanced by a crisp mildly spiced back nine. Some hints of cinnamon and orange peel are present, as noted in the aroma, but also a rich nuttiness and holiday spicing follow. If you want a good idea of what crystal malt tastes like, this is your beer. Fig fruitiness arises from the second half interaction between the bread crust malt taste and the earthy hops. Very complex, but extremely well crafted and balanced. The finish has a subtle hint of grassiness. As the beer warms, more notes of bittersweet chocolate emerge as well as numerous specialty malts. Whatever the alcohol is, it's very well masked.
Mouthfeel: Medium bodied and smooth. The carbonation is nice in the front half with a minute bite, but then foams up slightly as the beer flushes over the palate. Very creamy and enticingly crisp for a holiday ale. Finish is dry and slightly resined.
Overall Impression: I'm astounded by the way this beer was crafted. For an American Brown ale, the parallel between the incorporation of spices and finishing hops against the malt base of caramel bread and toffee is fantastic. The texture in sight and feel are likewise favorable. Complex, drinkable and to be enjoyed on every occasion, not just the Holidays. I'm impressed.