Winter beers

Adam Shugan is an associate at one of our Gainesville stores. Beer is his passion.

I have amassed a six-pack of winter seasonal beers offered by ABC.  I am trying the first one of the bunch called Shipyard Brewing Company “Prelude Special Ale”.  Prelude is actually a style known as a “winter warmer” which is a malt-heavy ale released during the winter season.  Some have higher than average alcohol contents to give a feeling of warmth when imbibed.  Many are spiced with different holiday-friendly spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger.  This blending of robust ales with a mix of spices is called a “wassail”.

The nose of Prelude is delightfully sweet with aromas of butterscotch and a hint of floral hops.  The taste matches the sweet bouquet with some butterscotch, toastiness and creaminess.  This is a wonderful brew to enjoy next to a roaring fire on a cold winter’s night.   Look for others, including Samuel Smith’s “Winter Welcome Ale”, Harpoon’s “Winter Warmer”, and Full Sail’s “Wassail”.

The second beer in my winter-mix-six-pack is Sierra Nevada “Celebration Ale 2011,” an American IPA.  Sierra Nevada is a great brewery from California with a full line of year-round and seasonal brews.  Celebration is one of their highly anticipated ales because each year they tweak the recipe just a little bit.  This year they added wet hops, which is the act of adding fresh hop to the finished brew before bottling to get the most of the oils and essence of the hops.  I much prefer this taste in IPA’s because I like some good hop oil and resin on my tongue.  I served this one chilled in a pint glass.  It poured a nice amber color with a tall, soapy head.  The smell was hop forward with some citrus, mint, and herbal notes.  The taste was smooth as satin with a fine coating of wet hop resin and some lemon rind.  The whole cone hops were not too bitter and a slight caramel maltiness poked its head through.  What a great beer for the winter!

Cheers!

Adam Shugan, Gainesville

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