Hello, everyone! I hope you had a terrific Christmas or wonderful ongoing Hanukkah, or just got to enjoy some chill time with your family! I am working through a number of local beers here in Pennsylvania, and will have lots of reviews and more when I get back to South Carolina.
However, I still have some beers from before Christmas to review, so let's dive right in!
Buried among the seemingly endless (and having just drove it, I can attest to this) series of national parks and forests that make up the Appalachian mountain chain through the southeastern United States is tiny Banner Elk, NC. Flat Top Brewing Company can be found in this small town near the NC-TN border, and they pride themselves on using "fresh Appalachian mountain spring water", one of the advantages to being among the seemingly endless parks and forests. But for some reason, I've turned into a travelogue writer. Let's get to the beer.
Ryed Along Black Rye IPA is a nearly pitch black beer, as expected, that is 6.7% ABV and 70 IBU. To me, this beer expresses the "black" portion of the style, as in stout or porter, rather than the IPA part. Coffee joins up with a whole lot of sweet chocolate notes, approaching the point of being cloyingly sweet. There are lots of fruity notes as well, cherries and berries, specifically. All of these sweet notes come together to make me feel like there is a boozy sweet note. But at just 6.7% ABV, I think my brain is just reinterpreting a lot of the flavor notes. Decent beer, though the sweetness would likely prevent me from enjoying more than one at a sitting.
As I said in the finale of my Christmas beer video series, I did have one last Christmasy beer, though this one officially runs into the New Year, because it is called a Winter Ale. Goose Island Beer Company's winter offering pours a deep brown to copper color. The beer utilizes a massive malt line-up, including 2-Row, Caramel-60, Dark Chocolate, and other malts to create a nice flavor profile, including a nice malty sweetness to go along with the standard fall/winter spices such as all spice and nutmeg and a little bit of dark fruit. There are sweet notes, but at 5.3% ABV, it isn't boozy at all. Virtually no bitterness (25 IBU), either. Though not ground-breaking, I found this Winter Ale to be a solid representation of style.