Saturday, October 31, 2009

Let's Have Two

Last night I wrote a brief post proclaiming my affinity for Alesmith's Winter Yulesmith, an imperial red ale. Tonight, after trick-or-treating, I had a second, just to make sure my cold-addled self did not get a wrong impression from last night's Yulesmith. The second was as good as the first.

I like Christmas beers, and try to taste a variety during the Holiday Season. I have had Christmas beers well into the following year, but I tend to enjoy them most when they are first released, as it's not as fun to drink a Christmas beer in April or May as it is in November or December. Typically, the first Christmas release I see in stores is Sierra Nevada's Celebration Ale, but I have not yet seen it this year. I bought The Bruery's Two Turtle Doves earlier in the week and was all set to crack it open on Halloween as this year's inaugural holiday beer. Then I saw an email from The Olive Market stating that it had just received a shipment of Alesmith's Yulesmith. No mention on whether it was a late shipment of the Summer Yulesmith, a double IPA, or if it was this year's Winter Yulesmith. I stopped by the store and saw the distinctive green and red label and new it was this year's Winter Yulesmith. I picked up a bottle and had it with dinner last night (prompting the post) and thought it so good I went an bought a second bottle to have on Halloween. Two Turtle Doves will have to wait.

Winter Yulesmith pours a clear, deep copper with solid tan foam. The color is lighter than shown in the picture and has a rich, reddish hue. Yulesmith is sweet and rich on its initial tastes and the finish is all hop bitterness. The balance is fantastic, as the beer's flavor glides between the sweet and the bitter. Balance is where most imperial red ales fall short for me. If an imperial red ale has too much malt the sweetness makes the beers hard to drink, and if the hops are too dominating the bitterness would approach a double IPA. Yulesmith avoids this trap, which is why it is so good. This beer can be savored after dinner or swigged with pizza - I tried both methods.

Winter Yulesmith is the better of Alesmith's two Yulesmiths. The Summer Yulesmith, a double IPA, is in the sticky, syrupy double IPA camp, like Avery's Maharaja. This style can be unpleasant to drink. Winter Yulesmith is rich, but not syrupy; has a bold flavor, but does not ruin your taste buds. This was an excellent beer to kick-off the Christmas beer season and I hope it is a harbinger of many delicious winter beers.

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