Beers in Review: Not Too Warm to Review a Winter Warmer

First up is this year’s offering from Great Divide Brewing Company’s Hop Disciples series of IPAs utilizing a rotating selection of hops. The 2019 version features Callista hops, which “showcases floral and tropical notes with hints of citrus and pine.” The beer itself pours a clear pale gold and checks in at 6.2% ABV. I picked up some of the tropical and floral notes, along with a bit of pine. But none of it was particularly potent or notable. In fact, I hesitate to call it a bad beer, but it feels like it needs to do SOMETHING better than what it’s pulling off right now.

Next is 9 3/4, the Winter Warmer from Frothy Beard Brewing Company. Appropriate as we start flirting with 90 degrees here in Columbia. 9% ABV, and it pours a dark cola color. I got a little bit of a harsh start to the tasting experience, but it quickly gave way to dark fruits and a good amount of booze from that 9%. This was a decent Warmer, but I found the sweetness level to be pushing my personal limit of enjoyment. Still, some good things happening here.

Beers in Review: Two seasonals and a local

Beer seasons move so quickly. It's always a tad disconcerting to see Samual Adams put up their pumpkin beers in JULY. And the excuse they gave me a few years back was that they "didn't make enough summer seasonal", so they decided to just ship the next seasonal. If that's their business plan, so be it. But I personally disagree with that sentiment.

But I digress. The point is, given Christmas is nearly upon us, we've moved out of the cinnamon/nutmeg/clove/all-spice holiday beers that dominate the 4th quarter of the calendar year and into the true winter season: heavier styles with typically high alcohol content, and typically darker styles like porters and stouts, and old ales or strong ales from more-ambitious brewers. We'll get to a couple of old ales later.

First up is the local, which is a bit of a revisit. I first did a quick Beer Flight fly-by of River Rat's Broad River Red in October while I was getting caught up on my beer tastings. I revisited the beer to bring more detail this time around. So, let's get to it. Broad River is among the tastier reds I've had. Malts dominate the make up of this ale, resulting in some grainy, toasty flavors followed by caramelly sweetness. It has a light-to-medium body, and is very smooth and easy-drinking. Arguably, this might be my favorite beer out of my favorite hometown brewery.

The first of our winter seasonals is Southern Tier Brewing Company's Old Man Winter. The Old Man pours a reddish brown color, and contained hints of caramel, nice dark fruit sweetness, and additional boozy sweetness. Piney hops also were present, and contributed a fair amount of hop bitterness to the taste.

The second seasonal was Great Divide Brewing Company's Hibernation Ale, which poured a muddy brown color. It contained a whole lot of boozy sweetness (coming in at 8.7% ABV) and not a lot of body to me. Flavors included coffee hints along with caramel and toffee sweetness. Roasty maltiness comes through in the finish of the taste, and remains in the aftertaste. The Hibernation Ale to me seemed more indicative of the kinds of styles that tend to come out during this early calendar year season.