Saturday, November 27, 2010

Dundee Festive Ale

We're now getting into that wonderful time of year heading up to the winter holidays.  For beer enthusiasts, this means gorgeous, spicy winter ales, as the craft breweries bring out their Christmas offerings.  I remember about 5 years ago trying a Christmas Pudding Ale back in Britain, which really did manage to taste exactly like a Christmas pudding.  It was a total revelation, and it was one of the first Real Ales I'd tried, igniting my profound love of craft beer.  So Christmas beers have a special place in my heart, for the seasonal memories they bring back and for the part they've played in making me the beer-lover I am.

So I'm really excited to try out some of the local Christmas offerings in Upstate.  First up is Dundee's Festive Ale - their write-up promises 'nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon and orange peel spices', creating a 'complex but subtle flavor'.  Avid readers will recall Dundee's IPA, which was the subject of this blog's first review - I really enjoyed that brew, so this one's got a lot to live up to; here's the lowdown:-

Aroma - When you first open the bottle, the spices are beautifully evident.  It's like opening the door to your aunt's house on Christmas morning just in time for fresh-baked mince pies (for those who haven't had the good fortune of eating these little bundles of heaven, Wikipedia is your friend).  Of course, the smell of malt and hops is evident (perhaps that's my uncle sitting in the lounge having his first beer of Christmas).  To really get the fulness of the aroma, swirl the ale around in your glass as if it's a fine wine.

Appearance - the photo I took doesn't do the beer justice - it's a dark ale but certainly not black, more of an oaky brown.  The head is creamy and substantial.

Taste - Here's the quibble I have with this beer.  The aroma promises so much, but the taste was comparatively disappointing.  I picked up a banana flavour, but most of those delicious, sweet Christmas aromas simply didn't translate into the taste.  The beer also has a pretty light body, which isn't necessarily a bad thing but to me, a winter seasonal beer should taste rich and filling.

Mouthfeel - Carbonation was evident, but not too strong.  The cream from the head was extremely pleasant and added to the texture, making up for the light body.

Finish - that banana-ey flavour (thinking about it, it was most likely the orange peel) stayed prominently, and I could detect a certain maltiness.

It's a pleasant beer overall - I'm informed by one of my drinking partners that the spices are more prominent in some batches than in others, so perhaps this was one of the weaker batches.  This probably won't be the last time I try this beer - I'll let you all know if it's any different next time!

For now at least, this is a 3.5 out of 5.

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