Delirium Noel and Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale

December 18, 2012

There have been some pricey beers being reviewed in this column lately. Someone pointed this fact out to me a few days ago. Their tone was accusative bordering on the implication of me being an elitist. I can assure you that this is not the case.

The only crime of which I’m guilty is having an exuberant love of beer and a retail environment to manage that, dang it, sells the very items I happen to review.

With Christmas coming and the general consensus leaning towards gift giving, I have the opportunity to reach out to those who can’t make it to my store on a regular basis and relate information on items that truly fit the season. Whether it’s a matter of flavors that match winter climate or rare and well-crafted beer, they all find an apropos home here in The Beer Garden.

Yes, unfortunately, a lot of the time these small-batch, limited release, exotic ingredient beverages carry a price tag; the law of supply and demand and all that good stuff. We have a common and oft-repeated phrase at my store: “Why do all the beers I love have to be so expensive!”

Not that it’s a necessity to do so, but if people have the means then they like to buy the finer things in life as Christmas presents. Given the season, I prefer to write about these items. But there are less expensive – and tasty – items available.

Here are my last two picks before the sleigh goes into flight; one for the well-to-do and one for Bob Cratchits everywhere.

First is Delirium Noel. It’s got a pretty dark red color that, sorry, you could even say it glows. Huge fluffy head leaves behind good cobweb lacing. Christmas spice, plum, apricot and caramel malt aromas are present with a touch of fig and apple. Noel has rich flavors of dried cherry and toffee with small hints of cinnamon, nutmeg and some boozy heat. It is a refined sipper.

Celebration Ale from Sierra Nevada, however, is the festive Christmas party to Noel’s quiet night next to the fire. A fresh-hop winter IPA, Celebration is coppery red with a sticky head that lasts for days. Citrus-mint-herbal hops dominate the nose while sharp flavors of grapefruit, lemon and spruce are evened out by a firm and roasty malt grip. The finish is clean and leaves you wanting another. An outstanding beer at an outstanding price.

Cheers and happy holidays!