I usually don't revisit beers I've previously reviewed. I don't feel the need given all the amazing beer out there. My problem is that there's too much good beer and too little time. Not a bad problem in the grand scheme of things...
Anyway, I've decided to go back and periodically revisit selected beers. I think it will be fun to see how they compare to my memory. I won't change my original reviews or ratings, but will provide new observations as warranted.
Winter seasonals are great to revisit. They're only available once a year and brewers often tweak the recipes. So I'm taking a second look at Deschutes Jubelale and Redhook Winterhook.
"A dark, malty celebration ale with layered flavors and beautifully balanced hopping. Jubelale pours deep garnet in color, medium bodied, with notes of chicory, earth, spice and fruit. To beer lovers, it’s like Yule fire and family." – Deschutes Brewery
Random Thoughts: There's been a lot of blog discussion about Jubelale '11. Jeff from Beervana noticed a big difference from last year and got an explanation from Deschutes owner, Gary Fish. Bill from It's Pub Night recently pitted the draft and bottled versions of Jubelale against each other in blind taste test.
Fuzzy Memories: Here's my full review of 2010 Deschutes Jubelale. I loved it and gave it 4 stars. It was beautifully balanced, had a wonderful creamy mouth feel, and just encapsulated the holidays for me. One of my standouts of the season!
Today: Dark reddish amber in color. Very nice looking! Not very strong in aroma, but I picked up some sweet malt and spicy notes. In flavor, the malts and hops tasted very muddled and I couldn't recognize or describe them. In the middle and finish, there's a medicinal aspirin-like flavor that left an unpleasant lingering bitterness. While I loved Jubelale last year, I really didn't like it this year. It drops down two notches for me and gets a 2 star rating.
Redhook Winterhook "Regardless of whether you spend your winter months on the slopes, shoveling your driveway or just hiding out, Redhook Winterhook is a great way to chase off the winter chill. This year will be our 27th consecutive release of Winterhook. The recipe changes slightly every winter because nobody likes getting the exact same Holiday present year after year. Redhook’s 27th brew of Winterhook has roasted chocolate notes that smooth out the quick, spicy hop finish. The rich body and nutty, malty backbone make this winter ale slighty naughty and very nice." – Redhook Ale Brewery
Random Thoughts: The folks at Redhook sent me sample bottles of this year's vintage and included a lovely Santa tie in the package! These days, I only wear ties at weddings. So unfortunately, I won't be wearing it this winter. Maybe next year. Thanks Redhook!
Fuzzy Memories: Here's my full review of 2010 Redhook Winterhook. I gave it 3 stars. I liked it, but didn't think it was memorable. I also thought it was a bit light in the hop department.
Today: The malt bill and hop profile for Winterhook are different this year. A bit of rye was added to the mix and only Centennial and Zeus hops were used (four varieties were employed in the 2010 edition). Aroma of caramel malt with spicy and citrus hops. Flavor of caramel malt, but the hops quickly take command by providing plenty of bitter grapefruit and piney flavors. While last year's version leaned towards malt, Redhook took the hoppy approach this year. I was surprised to see it rated at only 42 IBUs. It tasted far more bitter to me. I'm curious to know when the hops were added. I'd guess they were added early in the boil as the end result is very bitter. It gets the same 3 star rating...
What do you think of this year's vintages of Jubelale and Winterhook? What winter beers do you like to revisit each year?