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Craft Beer Advent-ures: The Final Chapter

2015_beeradventWell, Xmas is almost here and the Advent Calendar box sits empty, lonely and just about forgotten. Good thing its contents will live on in our memories (and floating around the interweb). For those just joining me, this is my weekly rundown of the beer in the 2015 Craft Beer Advent Calendar (read the first parts here, here and here).

And, no, I didn’t drink Day 24 at 7:00 this morning. I cheated and opened it yesterday so I could post this in the morning before people disappear into their respective Xmas festivities. Here are the last five days:

20: Paddock Wood Marzyana

Pours bright gold with a slight haze. Rocky, active white head. Aroma offers light crisp pilseneresque grainy sweetness, some apricot, pear and a touch of leather and earthy spices . A lot going on in the aroma. Wispy malt upfront in the flavour with a noted fruity sweetness – I get pear and apricot. It is a bit heavy at the start for my liking. The yeast character rises fairly quickly and adds a musty earthiness, some sharp ester notes and an odd background flavour that I can’t quite place – a combo of leather and faint tartness. The linger has strong yeast notes and a bit of alcohol heat. The first sip went down better than the last – I think because the residual sweetness is just a bit too big for my taste.

21: Clown Shoes Bombay Berserker

Endlessly black but with only a thin dark tan head on top. It has a quiet appearance. It gives off the smell of flavoured coffee and chocolate, some cinnamon and touches of vanilla, maybe also ginger. It has thick, rich malt of dark chocolate at front, with a bit of bittersweet character. The middle brings an accent of cinnamon, ginger and some other earthier notes. The linger is strongly spicy – I pick up ginger and cinnamon most, but there are a lot of spices in there. It has some long lasting alcohol warming – a bit hot. The parts are all fine but somehow the whole package doesn’t quite come together for me. Maybe I don’t like spices in my Imperial Stouts. Or maybe they worked a bit too hard on the spice and not enough on the base beer.

yukonlongestnight22. Yukon Longest Night Cascadian Dark Ale

Pours dark mahogany brown, with an off-white head that first forms strongly but drops away quickly. Some nutty malt sweetness with deep caramel and then some floral hop aroma. The sip starts with a nice brown ale character, I get nuttiness, some dark fruit, a rich malt base. Then the hops kick in midway. They are not too sharp, but offer pine, grass, earth and woodiness. The linger dries out the beer and leaves you with a piney, floral hop flavour. I am not sure I would call this a classic Cascadian Dark Ale, but, man, is it a pleasant beer to drink. I expect as much from the good folks at Yukon.

23. Sound Old Yonder Star

A medium brown beer with edges of chestnut. An attractive, thick, bubbly light tan head builds. I pick up a rich, meaty aroma of dark fruit, plum, raisin, burnt caramel, butter tart. The flavour starts with a nutty fruitiness, soft caramel and a candi sugar accent. The middle brings a sharp, citrusy hop (which seems out of style) and an odd, harsh metallic note. The metallic flavour works its way though the finish, interfering with the caramel and nut. The beer starts well, but I really start to wonder on that back end. The linger leaves an odd blood-like taste in my mouth. I

sweetbabyjesus24: DuClaw Sweet Baby Jesus!

Appropriately named beer for Xmas Eve, I guess (if that matters to you). It is a Chocolate Peanut Butter Porter. Okay, that could go a couple ways. It is deep black like a stout (rather than a porter), offering only a thin tan head. The aroma is a peanut butter cup – peanut butter and sweet dark chocolate and some fruity esters in the background. The taste starts with dark chocolate, nuts and burnt toffee. In the middle the peanut butter really starts to come through, oddly balanced by a sharp hop bitterness, citrus in nature. A truly intriguing beer. I like peanut butter so it kind of works for me, but I anticipate this to be a very divisive final beer.

Now that I have worked through all 24 days, I can safely say there were more winners than not and a fascinating range of breweries and beer styles. There was a clear tendency toward darker, heavier and more alcoholic beer which, given the issues with the first edition a couple years back, is not such a bad idea as they age a bit better. No regrets on my end. Well, okay, maybe one or two that I wished I  hadn’t had to try, but mostly a positive experience.

Merry Xmas everyone!!

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