The final stretch at last!
24 days have gone by so quickly, it barely felt like any time at all. Day after day of mystery, and before I knew it I was pulling the last advent beer out of the box.
It has truly been a fantastic and interesting experience. Now, without further delay, we will look at the final eight beers of advent that have delighted, disgusted and amused me.
December 17th: Tradecraft Series – Cherry Sour (Black Market Brewing Company – Temecula, California) 1.75/5
This beer largely has mixed reviews anywhere you go. My favourites so far have been: “This beer honestly smells and tastes like vomit” as well as “Cheese, leather, musk, off-phenols, and viengar. INTENSELY poor.” While neither of these comments are mixed – leaning more towards negative – there seems to be the largest disparity in reviews out of all of the beers presented in the advent calendar. Some really hated it, while others really loved it.
A sour ale sitting at 3.8% alcohol, this is probably the most controversial of the bunch. This beer is definitely sour and has notes of cherry as promised. For the most part, it tastes like someone has removed the sugar from a cherry blaster sour candy and turned it into a drink. I personally enjoyed the nostalgia of the flavour and found the initial sips somewhat refreshing. The unnatural red colour of the beer and continued sipping proved too much for me. If you’re looking for something different in an unsweetened cooler, give it a shot. Otherwise, I would suggest avoiding this non-beer.
December 18th: Neck of the Woods Vintage Ale (Black Oak Brewing Company – Etobicoke, Ontario) 3.5/5
This english strong ale is exactly what I expected. The keyword here is strong. Tastes slightly bitter and sweet. No one flavour really sticks out. Nothing truly unique but for the most part a solid offering. Sitting at 8.5% alcohol, I would suggest sipping this slowly or drinking on a full stomach.
December 19th: Trade Day – Cuban Coffee Stout (Back Forty Beer Company – Gadsden, Alabama) 3.75/5
Stouts are one of my favourite beers and this one was actually a nice little surprise. This stout sits at 6.2% alcohol and carries it very well. Carbonation was as expected coming from a bottle, but otherwise not a problem. Aromatic coffee notes comes out of the glass and seems to carry through initially on the palate. A touch bitter. While there are better stouts out there, this one makes me almost feel like I’m sitting at a coffee house……..drinking beer.
December 20th: Marzyana (Paddock Wood Brewing Co. – Saskatoon, Saskatchewan) 2.5/5
As previously mentioned in my reviews, the Belgian Tripel is not one of my favourite brews. That being said, this one fared pretty well. Having 9.2% alcohol did not detract from the overall flavour, which was nice. In fact, it was hardly even noticeable. Flavour is honey sweet, but not overbearing. Slightly dark in colour with a bit of sediment in the glass. This is still not my favourite, but I will admit it was far better than the other tripels I’ve had so far.
December 21st: Bombay Berserker (Clown Shoes – Ipswich, Massachusetts) 3/5
This beer labels itself as an Indian style chocolate stout. Contains 10% alcohol and smells and tastes of cocoa as well as something else I can’t quite place. Cherry maybe? This one is strong enough to almost be labelled a porter rather than a stout. Not as good as the previous chocolate stout, but certainly not horrible by any means.
December 22nd: Longest Night – Cascadian Dark Ale/IPA (Yukon Brewing – Whitehorse, Yukon) 4/5
Longest Night is an example of a style of beer that I am becoming increasingly fond of. A dark IPA marries the intense flavours of a dark beer with the robustness of hops and this brew does a decent job of doing just that. The bitterness of the hops and earthy tones mingle well in this 6% alcohol beer. Pours extremely dark in the glass. Would certainly recommend if you area lover of traditional IPAs.
December 23rd: Old Yonder Star 2015 (Sound Brewery – Poulsbo, Washington) 3.5/5
I don’t really have much to say about this beer except that it was generally good. Sweet molasses is the dominant flavour and remains a fairly smooth, well balanced brew. Pours dark and contains 7.3% alcohol, this beer in not really remarkable, but a solid choice for another English strong ale.
December 24th: Sweet Baby Jesus! (DuClaw Brewing Company – Baltimore, Maryland) 4.5/5
The final beer in the box – and an excellent choice if ever there was one beer that had to finish it all off. A porter sitting at 6.5% alcohol; this one labels itself as a Chocolate Peanut Butter Porter which tastes just as amazing as it sounds. In terms of flavour, it tastes like a less sweet chocolate peanut butter cup but keeps the decadence that you would expect in such a treat! Pours dark and you can smell both the chocolate and peanut elements almost instantly. This is insanely good, but certainly more of a desert beer than anything else.
Well that’s all there is! All 24 days have been accounted for and each beer tried in its turn. There have been some really great ones and some really …. not good ones. Overall, I would say that the beer selection was fairly decent. There quite a few surprises and some that I would prefer to never set eyes on again. My favourites, by far, were the Independence Pass Ale and the Saint Beatnick Chocolate Stout and I sincerely hope that this will not be the last interaction I have with them.
As for the box itself, I would say that the design on the outside looks phenomenal, but the insides posed a rather big problem. Initial problems of the box arose when I would open a panel, reach in to get my beer and then get my hand stuck in such a way that I could not remove it. This became a larger problem when the beer of the day was a can. This issue quickly became aggravating. After day 8 or so, another problem arose when the inner structure of the box collapsed, leaving me with a bunch of beer bottles and cans at the bottom that were no longer in their proper slots. This was easily corrected by visiting the website of the company that puts advent calendars together, but also removed some of the joy and surprise of the whole experience. I hope that this is corrected for next year.
Overall, as an experience, if you love trying different beers, I would highly recommend this pack. It changes every year and provides a unique beer experience on a daily basis. In most cases, you will not find these anywhere at your local stores or even in your country. You should consider giving it a shot.
As for me, I will patiently wait until next December for the next BeerAdvent Calendar to be released so that I can start this insane process all over again.
It’s been a long road, now let us end with a December in review. Hit the link below…..