Review: Christmas Ale, Schlafly

Schlafly Christmas Ale
The St. Louis Brewing Co. — St. Louis, MO

  • Style:  Winter Warmer
  • Bitterness:  30 IBU
  • ABV:  8.0%
  • Malts:  Pale, Caramel, Munich, Chocolate, Honey
  • Hops:  Hallertau
  • Special Ingredients:  Spiced with orange peel, juniper berries, ginger root, cardamom, and cloves
  • Sampled:  12 oz. bottle (provided by brewery) 

Description:  Our Christmas Ale is a warming winter ale that blends the spices of the season with sweet caramel malt.  Orange peel, juniper berries, ginger root, cardamom and cloves are added for spiciness.  We use honey in the fermentation process, which raises the ABV without producing too much heat from the alcohol content. Many breweries produce richer, higher alcohol beers for the winter holiday season, bolder than their year-round offerings.   The inspiration for this beer came from spiced holiday beverages such as wassail and mulled wines. Around the holidays, the sweet and spicy aromas, not to mention the booze, in such libations tend to smooth the rougher edges of enjoying each other’s company and spreading goodwill.  Schlafly 

Random thoughts:  Two years ago, I profiled Schlafly's Pumpkin Ale. I absolutely loved it and wanted to include their Christmas Ale as part of my winter beer series. Schlafly's beer isn't available in the Northwest, so the brewery kindly sent me some sample bottles. 

The tasting:  Bottled on November 14, 2013. Deep amber in color, hazy, with an off-white head that dissipates very slowly. It left lots of lacing on the glass. Aroma is full of spicecinnamon, clove, ginger, and orange are all prominent. A touch of alcohol is also present in aroma. The taste starts with caramel, which provides a light malt sweetness. In the middle, the spice flavors beautifully meld together. It's hard to distinguish the individual spice components in taste, but they nicely complement the caramel sweetness. A light earthy hop bitterness is present in the middle, but overall bitterness is low throughout. Christmas Ale is medium bodied and moderately carbonated. It has a creamy mouth feel and finishes semi-dry with lingering notes of caramel, spice, and mild warming alcohol.

4 star.  Really good! I want this again!  This has been my favorite of the winter seasonals I've tasted so far this year. While bold, the spice flavors are well balanced and do not overwhelm. If you really want to unleash the spice, let the beer rise to room temperature before drinking. If Schlafly Christmas Ale is available in your area, be sure to give this delicious beer a try before it disappears for the year!

What do you think of Schlafly's Christmas Ale
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