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  1. I really enjoyed the conversation around pumpkin beers that we have had for the past few months, and I thought we could just carry this into the new line of seasonal beers, the Christmas Ale. My first Christmas Ale was probably Delirium Noel, and as opposed to Pumpkin beers, I was instantly in love with the style. It was malty and spicy, and was somehow a perfect drink on a cold night. This was close to fifteen years ago, yet I still get excited when the Christmas beers start trickling onto the shelves. I went to Total Wine this week to put together my first Xmas beer collection, and here's what I picked up. Christmas Ale - St. Bernardus - This is the brewery that supposedly makes the same recipe as Westvleteren, but without the secrecy or cool monk backstory. I don't think I've ever had any of their beers, but am excited to try this one. Santa's Little Helper 2013 - Mikkeller (link to 2012 bottling) - Mikkeller is the gypsy brewery owned by to friends from Denmark. Each of their beers is brewed at someone's else brewery, some with collaboration and some just by Mikkeller. Here's the wikipedia page for more info, Mikkeller. This is a Belgian Dark Ale, so I'm assuming it's close to the Delirium in style. Delirium Noel 2013 - Brouwerij Huyghe - And back to the beginning for me. I hope this lives up to my memory, since it's probably been five years since I've had this. My memories of it are of gingerbready goodness with some orange peel and cloves. I wonder if the craft beer explosion and the amount of amazing beers available now will relegate this to the back of the pack. And finally I have two localish stouts that I've been aging for a year that I'm interested to try against this year's batches. I've found that I like my stouts, especially the high alcohol content ones, with a little bottle age. It mellows them out, and really brings the flavors forward. Gingerbread Stout - Hardywood Park Craft Brewery - This beer is what put Hardywood on the map, scoring a perfect 100 from the Beer Advocate boys (and a 96 from the field). I was able to get one bottle from the 2012 offering, but rumor around Richmond is that they upped production and it should be a little easier to find this year. So I haven't had it yet, but am very much looking forward to it. Silent Night - Mother Earth Brewing - I'll admit that I had a bottle of this a few months ago, and it blew everyone away. Unfortunately I didn't take any notes and don't really recall what people really liked about it. I do have another bottle of the 2012 batch, and hopefully I can get a 2013 bottle to compare it to. I know everyone has their favorites, so I'm hoping we can have another conversation in this thread about this season's offerings. Happy Drinking, Eric (And Yes, I get the irony of VikingJew loving Xmas ales, I just haven't been impressed with the Potato Latke Porters out there.)
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