Cliff Richard famously sang about “Christmas time, Mistletoe & Wine” – it’s here if you feel like punishing yourself:
However, you won’t be surprised to learn that at my place I like to explore Christmas beers, and this year Brewdog have brought some new ones out.
First to Santa Paws:
Santa Paws 4.5% ABV
Brew dog describe Santa Paws as a ‘decadent scotch ale brewed with Scottish heather honey‘. While scotch ales tend to be on the potent side, this is brewed to just 4.5% ABV, making it a ‘session’ scotch ale.
It pours a very, very dark garnet – it takes a halogen to detect the garnet in the darkness – with a mocha coloured head that fades gently.
The nose is, appropriately, mocha coffee – that’s coffee with a hint of chocolate.
The flavour is also dark and, as Brewdog describe it, ‘roasty‘. There are no fewer than eight different malts in there – Extra Pale, Munich, Dark Crystal, Flaked Oats, Carafa Spec3, Amber, Brown and Weyermann Oak Smoked malt – giving a deep, satisfying, malty ale.
There are hints of dark fruits and maybe cherries in there, along with the smokey, chocolately coffee, not too many hops, and no sign of the heather honey.
At 4.5% ABV this is a good beer to sup while wrapping presents, as I did, it’s a pleasant enough drink, and not too potent.
As such I’m happy to give it three brewclub stars, it’s a brew that does what it sets out to, but no more.
Hoppy Christmas 7.2% ABV
Hoppy Christmas is a different beast altogether, a festive IPA, brewed to 7.2% ABV and redolent with Simcoe hops – fast becoming a favourite of mine.
I like the complexity that Simcoe brings to a brew, let’s face it, gone are the days of impressing your mates with “can you taste grapefruit?“. And that’s evident in the nose of this brew, which is bursting with exotic tropical pineapple and papaya.
It’s a rich orangey/apricot colour, and while the head is full and white, it fades rapidly.
The flavour is rich, there’s a hoppy bite with pine and grass underpinning the tropical fruits, and under all this there’s a rich malty backbone. The 7.4% alcohol makes its presence known, it’s not ‘in your face’, but neither is it hiding’ you know you’re drinking something that merits your respect.
It’s a different ‘take’ on Christmas, while everybody else is bringing out rich, dark winter porters, Brewdog take you somewhere warmer and sunnier.
Christmas in the Caribbean anybody?