Saturday, December 29, 2012

Upslope Christmas Ale review

Upslope Christmas AleWhat could be better for beer drinking than a brew that comes gift wrapped in a can? Christmas may be over, but the holiday spirit(s) linger on through New Years Day. This is the perfect time of year to enjoy some spiced holiday ales and for this review I chose to sample Upslope Brewing Company's: Upslope Christmas Ale - an ale brewed with holiday spices. This beer is part of their Limited Release series of beers.

Back in October 2012, Upslope announced that they would indeed put their new Christmas Ale in 16oz cans and release it on November 1st. I bought a can fairly early, but wanted to wait until the holidays to enjoy it. After all, who feels right drinking a Christmas beer just after Halloween when the weather was still balmy and warm?

This beer was based off of a Belgian-style Dubbel recipe, fermented with Abbey Ale yeast and blended with a mix of holiday spices. This brew weighed in at 8.2% ABV. What's nice was that there was 16oz of this brew and just the usual 12oz that they normally package with. Bonus beer!

Appearance: Upslope Christmas Ale poured a dark reddish color, nearly brown, that built up a small, but frothy light tan head. The beer was nearly dark enough to block out the light, but it was evident that this beer had good clarity and adequate carbonation, even out of the can. The can design was awesome as it looked like a festively wrapped present. There was a bit of lacing around the edge of the glass, but that didn't stick and quickly slid off the sides.

A fine holiday brewAroma: If you really want to get the full aromatic effect of this beer, let it warm up a bit. The spices and Belgian yeast will really come out as it gets warmer. While Upslope didn't reveal which spices were put into this beer, I could pick out a gentle mix of spice easily in the nose. The Belgian yeast also had a wonderful exotic aroma and reminded me of a Chimay. There were elements of dark fruit and sweet malt in the nose as well.

Taste: Ahhhh. This was a beer that didn't go overboard with the spice. It tasted like a wonderful Belgian Dubbel with dark candy and fruit accent, yet with an underlying spice that lasted throughout the sip. The brew was medium to medium-high in body. The beer drank very smoothly without a lot of bitterness. The IBUs were there (25 IBU), but didn't give out a mouthful of hoppiness. Hidden behind all that flavorful malt and spice was the fact that this beer was over 8% ABV. This beer will definitely warm you up in a flash.

Overall: I must admit, I don't usually enjoy spiced holiday beers, but Upslope Christmas Ale made one I could definitely enjoy, even after the holidays. Just enough spice to notice, but the Belgian flavor takes center stage here. It's a dark beer without the roast, but with a lot of dark fruit and malt flavor. The combo of yeast and spice made for one jolly holiday brew. I will definitely buy this beer again next time I spy one.

Disclosure: I paid full retail price for this beer at my local liquor store. I was able to buy a single can of this in a singles section.

Related articles:
- Upslope Pumpkin Ale review. (2012)
- Upslope Foreign Style Stout review. (2012)
- Upslope Brown Ale review. (2012)

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