Sunday, June 7, 2009

Cold Weather and Beer

Cold weather has an interesting effect on craft-beer drinkers. It inspires them to seek out cold-weather beer: the spiced holiday ale, the rich imperial stout, or maybe the barley wine that has been aging in the cellar for a year or two. I do not have a cellar from which to grab a barley wine, nor do I have access to an imperial stout, but it has been cold recently and I have adjusted my beer-drinking habits accordingly.

The first beer I purchased in this seasonal spirit was Emerson’s Taieri George Ale, a spiced ale of the sort usually found in the States around the winter holidays. While I prefer to keep my love for all things spiced (cakes, pies, breads and the like) separate from my passion for beer, I thought I might as well give this one a taste.

Taieri George Ale: 6.8% ABV

The 500ml bottle indicates that the beer was released on March 6th, and that it is a 2009 vintage. At 6.8% alcohol, and with a malt-dominated profile, this beer is a potential candidate for aging. Served in a snifter, the beer pours almost pitch black with a one to two inch creamy tan head. There is a strong aroma of cinnamon and nutmeg with a vanilla-like sweetness behind the spices. Tastes of spices upfront, with a firm malt-sweetness throughout the sip, and a bit of dry bitterness from the dark grains towards the back. There is also just the faintest bit of alcohol heat. Mouthfeel is smooth, a bit thin, with a medium body and light carbonation. Certainly an interesting tasting beer, maybe a bit too spiced for my liking (a feature which could mellow out with a bit of aging).

The second beer to find its way into my glass was Emeron’s Dunkelweiss. The dunkelweizen style is simply a hefeweizen (German, unfiltered wheat beer) to which dark grains have been added. I like hefeweizens and enjoyed my only other experience with the dunkel variety (Weihenstephaner’s Hefeweisbeer Dunkel), so I was excited to crack this bottle open.

Dunkelweiss: 6.3% ABV

I would have preferred to pour the 500ml bottle into a wheat beer glass, but given my limited glassware options, I settled for the snifter. Beer pours dark brown with a large tan head. Smell is chocolate, banana, cloves and bread (smells like chocolate banana bread). Taste is spicy clove upfront, followed by a dry bitterness and subtle malt sweetness. Body is medium to full with a dry finish. This beer smells outstanding, tastes good, and drinks easily.

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