Alesmith YuleSmith Holiday Ale

Yay me, I received the gift of beer! So, this one’s been in my fridge for a bit, waiting for just the right occasion, and when I opened it, it was eager to get free, foaming out the top of the bottle, just a bit. So, its freshness may be in question. Brewed in San Diego by Alesmith, I was looking forward to this one, as the brewery is new to me.

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I poured the pint, and it ran nice, a little heady and foamy following the Kimchee overflow. It’s holding its head well. I take a whiff, a nice sweet malty aroma, followed by a fairly strong hoppy scent. Very enticing. I’m excited, this could be really good!

The color is yellow-gold and fairly cloudy. Pretty darn cloudy. That’s okay, I save my beer goggles for when the beer is gone.

I take a sip, hmm, not bad. Hoppy, sweet, something’s not melding though. The sweetness and the bitter just aren’t skipping through the park hand in hand. There’s a flavor a bit like salted raisins. It’s not off per se, it’s just not working for me. I’m setting the glass down, to let it warm up just a bit, let the flavors mingle and open up a little. Check the script for tasting notes. Oops, chill to 40-45 degree, upright, to enjoy. pour gently (did that…it was heady enough). Oh well, it’s been on the side for awhile. Honestly, if the words are that important, make them stand out from the bottle color a bit more, they’re a pain in the butt in low light.

So, I’ll wait a bit. In the meantime, I’ll clear my pallet with a splash of scotch and maybe a cracker. btw, for some tasty low-brow scotch, be sure to check out The Famous Grouse, a tasty blend featuring some of my favorite singles, but all in one bottle!

Two fingers of whiskey and a couple ak-mak crackers later, I’ve grabbed a fabulous new mug to pour the rest of the YuleSmith into. I’ll finish part one sometime later. The things I do to try to remain objective, fair, consistent, and beautiful. Thank me some other time, I’ve got a this work to do.

It is still cloudy. Oh, well. Maybe we’ll try again later. The scent remains nice. The warming has helped a fair amount. That, and probably the buzz. This is a serious beer, weighing in around 8.5%, and with some scotch on top of it dog piling on an empty gut, well, I’m not gonna freeze in the cold tonite. Anyway, I’ve, warmed up to it quite a bit.

The mouthfeel is really nice, a bit creamy. As predicted, the flavor has melded with warmth. It’s still not fantastic, as a beer of this strength generally needs to be, but it’s actually pretty good, and by the end of it it might even be fantastic.

The weird raisiny taste has gone away, replaced by a pleasant citrus sweetness, with a hint of grapefruit (I know, that qualifies as citrus). There’s still a ton of hops, and the aftertaste sorta sneaks away and then sneaks back up and smacks you on the ass and say “hey! look at me!” and when you do, it’s still there smiling its toothless grin.

So, this is a tricky beer to review here. I think it’s pretty good. But it is touch to nail down. First, from the name I’d initially been expecting a winter ale. But, pretty clearly this is not some nutmeg-soaked overly strong beer with a hint of cinammon. Overly strong, maybe, but no nutmeg, no cinammon. It’s more of an IPA, but they don’t claim that, and I’m not sure if that’s what I’d call it. The hop character is a little different, it’s a bit smokier. But if they called it an IPA, I wouldn’t dispute them.

Second, I didn’t read the instructions. What is my problem? Next time I will certainly store the ale upright so I don’t quaff trillions of yeasts, only millions. That’s okay, it’s good for hangovers I hear.

Third, it tasted really funky at the wrong temperature. Good beer is like wine and if you serve it wrong you can really screw the pooch. So, if something seems wrong and it’s cold, let it warm (naturally), if it’s warm, make it cool (fridge not freeze). It was still challenging at the right temperature, but it’s a fun challenging that makes you feel warm and carefree.

So, give this one a go. It’s spendy, so like me maybe you should receive it as a gift. But, it has a huge variety of flavors going on, and while it may not be the finest example of whatever it is, it’s pretty good, it’s fun, and there’s sure a lot to say about it. cheers.

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