Well, here we are. It doesn’t really feel like the most wonderful time of the year this time around, does it? Many of us aren’t quite having the Christmas that we had in mind this year. Right now, I’m missing bustling pubs with bad carpets and wooden bar counters stained with beer from the mugs of drinkers from days gone by. Wherever you are, I hope that you have a fireplace to hunker down next to and something nice to drink. Perhaps a cute cat or dog to pet as you do so, if that’s your thing.
This week, I’ve been in the mood for rich, dark, boozy beers, and Belgian styles certainly fit the bill. Here’s what I’ve been drinking.
St Bernardus Christmas Ale
I’d heard so many great things about this one, I had to try it myself, and it didn’t disappoint. An aroma of dark chocolate, winter spice and burnt coffee greeted me as a swirled it, and the foam laced beautifully. Herb and clove flavours leave a gentle tingle in the centre of the tongue. It’s rich and warming, with a full mouthfeel and a long finish that you’d expect from an Abbey Ale. Worryingly, this is far more drinkable than the 10% abv should allow.
This is a great take on a dark Belgian ale from this Canadian brewery. It has all the fruity esters you’d expect from a Belgian yeast strain, and a smooth mouthfeel with powerful notes of plums and winter spice. It’s medium bodied with reasonably high carbonation and the finish is dry.
What’s on my non-beer Christmas booze menu?
I’ll be drinking Buck’s Fizz on Christmas morning, Tempranillo with my Christmas lunch paella (a few years old tradition in my household), and egg nog with homemade mince pies.
For cocktail hour, I’ve recently been enjoying gin martinis – made with equal measures of Bombay Sapphire gin and Noilly Prat vermouth for a slightly less boozy gin martini – garnished with a (not too dirty) green olive. I’ve also just purchased some pastis for the first time in years, mostly because I’ve just finished watching the Queen’s Gambit (brilliant, opulent drama, highly recommended) and it reminded me of how elegant I feel when sipping pastis and iced water from my most ornate glass.
Merry Christmas, everyone.