December has barely begun and I’m already sick to death of Bing Crosby’s voice. “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas,” indeed! That’s because, apparently, it is now mandatory to officially start the holiday season immediately following Halloween.
There has been a similar trend in brewing these days. All too often we see seasonal items being released far too early for its intended association; case in point: the recent slate of pumpkin beers that flooded stores for a very timely August release.
I’ve got neighbors who had their tree up and fully decorated before my turkey was in the oven. My prediction: Christmas will come earlier and earlier until, eventually, perhaps twenty years in the future, every day will have become Christmas. That can only mean that those annoying carols will be pumping out of the muzak speakers in malls and big box stores for the rest of eternity. No wonder so many businesses and companies don’t want the impending changes to health care… they’re terrified of the insurance premiums skyrocketing over employee suicide due to Burl Ives sensory overload.
Obviously, I’m kidding, but only about the perpetual and hypothetical winter wonderland of the future. Beer being released ahead of time doesn’t make sense. Why call a beer a Christmas ale only to release it in early November? It’s only going to be gone before your cat can even think about pulling down the string lights in the tree while you’re at work.
Thankfully there are breweries out there that understand this radical concept and not only send their product out when it’s pertinent, but also make a darn good winter ale in the process. Southern Tier just released their 2Xmas and it’s a beauty. It’s also a winter beverage that’s been inspired by another winter beverage; the all-too appetizing-sounding Glogg.
Glogg is a classic Nordic mulled wine accented with a plethora of spice and fruit and served hot. The 2Xmas Ale strives to recreate this but in a cold and carbonated form. Coppery ruby in color, it pours up a creamy, quickly-disappearing head that leaves nice lacing in the glass. When Southern Tier claims that this is made with fig, orange peel, cardamom, ginger root, cinnamon and clove… well, you better believe it! All of this explodes out of the glass with a gingerbread/fruitcake fury along with warming scents and flavors of caramel, molasses, toffee, vanilla and a hint of apple. Its texture is thick and viscous bordering on the outright chewy. All of these elements come together making a drink perfect for the season.
Oops. Just found out that they actually released this beer late October! Looks like the Santa Syndicate got to them too. Still a great ale.