By Jim Cyphert & The Flight Crew
COLUMBIANA, Ohio – “It’s the most wonderful time of the year – time for our review of local holiday ales. In this space, you’ll find our take on some of what’s available from Mahoning Valley breweries.
Thanks to Birdfish Brewing for the space to sample in its expanded tasting room – and to Northeast Ohio Craft Brewery News’ Rob Tittel and WFMJ meteorologist Andrew DiPaolo for lending a hand.
Biker BrewHouse Cruisin’ Christmas Ale 8.0% ABV
Jim Cyphert: Holiday beers can overwhelm the drinker with spice. But Biker BrewHouse’s Cruisin’ Christmas Ale is nearly perfect. It’s Scottish ale with cinnamon and ginger. It feels like the holidays and instantly warms you. This wasn’t my first tasting of this beer in 2020. And won’t be my last.
Hit Biker BrewHouse inside BikeTown Harley Davidson in Austintown – or the more than 40 spots locally where this one’s sold – and enjoy!
Birdfish Goses of Christmas Past, Present & Future 4.7% ABV
Jason Jugenheimer: Ebenezer Scrooge had to spend a reflective and revealing experience with these beers’ namesakes, the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future. I got to spend some time with these three Goses.
While they may not be life altering, like Dickens’ characters, each offers a unique experience and glimpse into the possibility that winter Goses brings.
Sugar plums danced in the Past, creating a deep pink pour with a semi-sweet and slightly tart flavor. The Present features traditional holiday flavors of cranberry and ginger that leave a semi-sweet fruit taste and sharp bite of ginger on your palate.
Finally, the Future reveals the warming flavor of spiced pear and showcases a beautiful golden pour.
There’d be no Bah Humbug had Scrooge been visited by these three. Hopefully you’ll find them in your stocking.
Modern Methods Kexmas Ale 7.8% ABVV
Dave Shively: Our annual Suds with Santa event has become a tradition to usher in the holidays.
For more than a decade, this holiday extravaganza has included a blind taste test where my pals cast their votes for their favorite holiday ale. Kexmas Ale was sampled and enjoyed at our 2018 holiday gathering.
Named after owner Adam Keck, this winter warmer pours a delightful dark amber color and has the perfect blend of holiday spices. I found cinnamon to be the primary flavor. The sweetness reminded me of a snickerdoodle cookie.
Spoil Santa this year by leaving him a pint of Kexmas Ale next to that plate of cookies. You’ll awaken to your stocking overflowing.
Paladin Barrel-Aged Golden Dragon 14% ABV
Roger Gillespie: Oh my! Way to go, John Chandler! He took his fabulous Golden Dragon Belgium Dark Strong Ale and aged it in a barrel to create an intensely satisfying masterpiece. That is not an overstatement. This Quad rings the bells at 14% and deserves some serious consideration for your holiday libations.
Safe to say, my fellow Crew members and guest tasters felt much the same way. Not as spicy as most holiday beers, but definitely festive. We also sampled Paladin’s tasty Holy Knight Apple Pie Brown Ale.
Sandy Springs Sandy Claus 7% ABV
Joe Sanfilippo: ’Tis the season for a great Christmas ale from our friends at Sandy Springs in Minerva. This one will have you singing and dancing around the Christmas tree (literally).
Sandy Claus is the perfect traditional Christmas ale brewed with cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. You get all the holiday spirits on the nose with this beer and it pours caramel in color with a tan head.
It’s the best time of the year for these styles of beers. Stop in and grab a pint and enjoy it in the new igloos. Or grab a crowler to go.
Numbers #25 Christmas Ale (5.9% ABV)
Brian Long: The 12 days of Christmas. The eight days and nights of Hanukkah. The 25th of December. The 1st of January. Numbers are an important part of the holiday season. Numbers Brewing in Lisbon is also an important cog in our local craft beer scene.
This one’s not your typical holiday beer. A touch of ginger spices things up. Make sure 0 isn’t the number that comes up this holiday season relative to how many festive Numbers beers you consume. Cheers!
Thin Lips on Cranberry & Raspberry 4.3% ABV
Rob Tittel: Berliner Weisse is a sour, cloudy wheat beer. The style originated in northern Germany. It traces its roots as far back as the 16th century.
Typically made from combinations of malted barley and wheat, its fermentation takes place with a mixture of yeast and lactic acid bacteria.
It’s a style that lends itself well to fruit additions. Noble Creature brewer Ira Gerhart loaded this variant (brewed just twice a year, for the summer months and again for the holidays) up with cranberries and raspberries, then finished it with a complementary dry hopping. This 4.3% ABV crusher is light and effervescent, one you can go back to the well for several times on both the hottest summer or coldest winter days. Get yourself some before it’s gone!
Penguin City Winter Warmer 7.5% ABV
Jason Jugenheimer: The Buffalo Check can is a great introduction into what you’ll find with Penguin City’s latest offering. This is an easy-drinking winter ale that’s not overly spiced. It pours a beautiful deep mahogany color, has a nice malty sweetness and just enough spice to warm it and make you want to get comfy in your favorite flannel.
What are you waiting for?
Crooked Tongue Peach Gobbler 7.0% ABV
Jim Cyphert: Crooked Tongue says this one’s the perfect balance of peaches, cinnamon and vanilla. It’s also the perfect complement to the good times of the holidays.
This year has been anything but normal. So, try something out of the ordinary and add a little spice to your life. This light sour is not overpowering.
And who doesn’t enjoy a delicate balance of peaches, cinnamon and vanilla? Crooked Tongue also provided a bottle of Pumfkin mead, which also was tasty.
Season’s greetings! See you next year!