La Cerveza Inglesa Del Invierno Es Mediocre

Friday, April 25, 2008

My neighbor has been breaking into the "better beer" scene and, once a week, heads to the Beer Mecca to grab a few brews he's never tried before. Always admirable.

But several weeks ago, he grabbed Spanish Peaks Brewing Company's (subsidiary of Flying Dog in Denver, CO) Winter Cheer Ale. He came over one day, hands me three of these things and says "I tried this two weeks ago, and was really really sick the next day. You want 'em?"

With an endorsement like that...

So of course, I took the beers. They were free.

I am happy to report that they didn't make me sick. But they did make me bored.

The beer poured a deep ruby; so deep it was nearly dark brown. It came with a thick, foamy eggshell-colored head that had some real staying power and even left a little lacing on the glass.

I got a lot of caramel and molasses aroma, along with some deep, prune-like scents. I got some light citrus along with it, probably from the hops. Speaking of hops, the beer had a strong hop presence as well, maybe even a little hoppy for a winter ale, which I would expect to be more malty than this (judging it as an Old Ale, which is as close to an official Winter Ale as I could think of on the BJCP style guidelines).

Unfortunately, the taste just didn't measure-up to the aroma and appearance. It's not bad. It's just not very exciting and has a few off-flavors. The malt was nice and all (I feel like I'm describing an overweight interest to someone: well, she has a great personality...). It had the pruny flavor, some solid sweetness that I'd expect for this ale and even a hint of chocolate. But I got two really strong off-flavors that sort of hurt this beer for me. One is a strong metallic taste and the other was inordinately high levels of diacetyl (think butter or butterscotch). In some beers, this style included, low-levels of diacetyl are okay and are a part of the beer's natural brewing and fermentation process. But this had much higher levels; insted of being a background flavor, contributing to the beer's complexity, it was quite prominent and got in the way of the really good qualities of this beer. The hop presence was less in the taste than it was on the aroma, but this is still a well-hopped beer, which is a bit inappropriate.

The beer was medium-bodied, and had a moderate level of carbonation to it. Very smooth.

Ultimately, this is not a bad beer by any means. It's just not a great beer. You'll not do wrong to buy and drink this beer; it's quite drinkable. But with better examples out there, why stick with the "Gentleman's C" of winter ales?

10 comments:

Bob "Chief Beer Advocate" 1:44 PM  

Good review. I don't know spanish, but I knew from the title what was coming.

I miss the photos of the bottle in the reviews. I know it was another step, but it was cool.

Smitty 2:17 PM  

Bob-I used to go to Beer Advocate to rip-off their pictures, as they are pretty good opf having a pic of every beer on the site. But they have reconfigured (probably at Breweries' request) their code so that when yopu right click a pic, it only saves the beer advocate logo, not the pic of the bottle.

Thus my only other way around it is to take a pic of the beer myself. Seeing as how this one didn't quite pass muster, I skipped it.

Maybe next week.

B Mac 3:16 PM  

Perhaps some sort of interpretive dance, uploaded to Youtube, could replace a picture of the bottle. Hell, you'll have plenty of family members soon, you can throw something together.

For example, here are my feelings from the first time I drank a Young's Double Chocolate Stout:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uIf8y0h3lH0

Sopor 5:28 PM  

Any dates on Spanish Peaks bottles Smitty? I'd be curious how old this Winter ale is, now that it is almost May! I wonder how much of an affect the age could have had on the lackluster flavor!

Smitty 6:39 PM  

No freshness date, Sopor.

the infamous roger 12:01 PM  

What I've tried from Flying Dog has been pretty lackluster, IMO.

Bob "Chief Beer Advocate" 9:59 AM  

FYI-

I count about 18 beer reviews since you started, including a couple posts where you did mini reviews of multiple beers.

It's almost time to compile in a book.

Smitty 10:17 AM  

I count about 18 beer reviews

There's more. But I didn't start using the "labeling" mechanism until last year, and some of my reviews are reviews of mul,tiple beers.

So I might already be at the book level!

Sopor 10:50 AM  

If you need some more, I've got notebooks full... ;-)

Bob "Chief Beer Advocate" 12:01 PM  

I searched "beer review" and counted at least some that weren't labeled.

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