Yesterday I decided I wanted fish. Then I decided I wanted fried fish. Then I decided I wanted beer-battered fish, and that I would review two similar styles and use one of those in the beer batter. Lots of big decisions. I managed. I used Avery Jubilation for the batter and had one with dinner. After I got the kiddos to bed, I had a Deschutes Jubelale. Both Winter Warmers, Old Ales, Winter Ales, etc. Call them what you will, they are a wonderful style on cold days. So here are my thoughts.
Review #1 (#3 overall)
Avery Old Jubilation 2010 Vintage (2011 used in batter) 8.3% ABV
A Boulder, CO based brewery. 12 oz brown bottle poured into pint glass
Appearance - To borrow from Procol Harum, it pours a lighter shade of dark brown, with some ruby colored hues dancing at the edges in the light. A finger of tan head with little to no lacing present
Smell - I get dark fruit up front. Some figs and dark cherries. There is a nuttiness that I am thinking is a hazelnut, but can't quite place.Sweet and malty, with some hops, but the malt wins this contest for sure. A lingering spice in the back. Some nutmeg perhaps?
Taste - Very similar to the smell, no real departure that I can discern. A bit more hops than than the smell, but still not a hop wallop, and its mostly on the finish.Caramel and toffee are present now. This doesn't have the alcohol heat of what I would expect from an 8.3%. As it warms, vanilla shows up, and a little more heat now from the alcohol, too...so it IS strong. Huh.
Mouthfeel - Extremely light mouthfeel for this dark of a beer, but medium overall. Much less sweet tasting than the smells would indicate.
Drinkability - Very nice Winter brew from a brewery that I really like. Malty and warming, it lives up to its name. The alcohol hit definitely showed through in the end. Not a GREAT beer, I wouldn't make a trip for it, but since I can get it locally, I will definitely enjoy it again.
Pairing - There are no real rules for beer/food pairing. Its not wine, you can be more inventive. That said the neutral white fish (Alaskan Pollock) mixed with a seasoned batter and combined with this Old Ale actually played well. The only real complaint, was that the oily fish and gave the beer a bit of an oily aftertaste I didn't get on its own. The front end had flavors that played nicely with the pepper bouncing off the sweetness of the ripe fruit and malts.
Review #2 (#4 overall)
Deschutes Jubelale 2011 6.7% ABV
Bend, Oregon brewery. 12 oz brown bottle with a artsy-cool label poured into a snifter
Appearance - Brown. I thought long and hard about a better color, but if I just say brown, it describes it perfectly. There is some reddish-orange tinting at the edges. Creamy head, with 2 fingers of picturesque lacing.
Smell - Too chilled at first--MY BAD!!--but that is because the kids took longer to get to bed than I expected. Plus the Avery alcohol was still working its way out of me. **10 minutes later** Brown sugar and roasted malts. A chocolate malt? Hints of green fruits behind the currants and plum aroma. Pear and green apple maybe. Just barely there, but there.
Taste - Wow. Luscious and full, everything you'd imagine from reading anything about a Winter Warmer. Fig and Plums announce their presence briefly before disappearing with some alcohol heat. Hits a bit stronger than the ABV would indicate, but not unpleasantly so. Hops in the latter third, but gone by the finish, leaving a pleasant memory. Everything is playing so nicely in harmony. Maybe just a smidge too sweet for me, but only maybe.
Mouthfeel - Again, thicker, stronger feel than the ABV. Decent carbonation. Bitterness and dryness remain just a touch longer than i would've expected with no over-present hop.
Drinkability - A gorgeous representative of this style, one I will certainly seek out & buy yearly. A tremendous brewery with no weak spot in their line-up. (at least that I have had) I expected nothing less, and was even surprised on the positive side. Well done.
Okay, that's four in the books. (blog) My goal is to review 150 unique beers this year. Hold me to it guys!