Lockdown booze, but festive – Part 2

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.

St Bernardus Christmas Ale

Unibroue Trois-Pistoles

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.

Christmas Beers To Pair With Lockdown – Part 1

The Christmas season is different for a lot of us in 2020. Last year I blogged about a favourite tradition of a cold walk to the pub on Christmas Day; sadly not something that I’ll be able to do this year. To compensate somewhat, I have resolved to try plenty of Christmas ales at home, and over the coming weeks, I will be sharing some of my favourite festive brews of the season. Whilst there is no substitute for a cosy seat next to the fireplace of a bustling pub, that will have to wait until next year. I’m sure I won’t be the only one who will be a least a little relieved to toast the end of 2020 in a few weeks time.

Cheers all!

Bell’s – Christmas Ale
I loved the colour of this one as soon as I poured it. The deep, rich cranberry hue reminds me of hand-pulled pints of ruby ales in cosy pubs. This is quite a bit more boozy than a typical sessionable ruby ale at 7.5%, and is classified as a scotch ale. That said, it drinks easier and smoother than most scotch ales I’ve tried; not too punchy or overly rich. It has aromas of blackcurrant, and a long, fruity finish laced with subtle caramel notes with a full and rounded mouthfeel. Delightful.

Clausthaler – Holiday Brew
I was pleasantly surprised by the full mouthfeel of this for a non-alcoholic beer. Rich and warming, with intense lingering cinnamon and red fruit flavours. A perfect way to ease into a winter drinking session or take a break between heady brews.

Sierra Nevada – Celebration IPA
This is probably one of my favourite beers that I’ve tried for the first time this year, which might have something to do with the fact that my first sip was on the day of the US election result. Intense bitterness cuts perfectly across toast and caramel malt notes, for a long finish with hints of pine and melon.

Anchor Brewing Co – Our Special Ale
This sumptuous dark beer starts with a little bit of cinnamon on the nose, then black pepper and winter spices on the palate with a lingering hint of peppermint. Best consumed under a blanket for maximum warm, comfortable, tingly joy.

Clausthaler kindly sent me a sample to try. I was not paid by anyone for this piece, and the reviews above represent my own opinions.