Maximus Bibendus’ Beer Matters


Beer Matters

Something for a Winter’s Evening

Maximus Bibendus discusses some of the seasonal beers available this Christmastide with Old PH (and one or two helpful bystanders).

Disclaimer: Real ales can of course vary tremendously from pub to pub, from day to day and even from pint to pint, and the comments below are personal observations by individuals on what was in the glass in front of them at the time.

Tom Woods: Christmas Cheer with whisky (ABV 4.5%) goodgoodgood
MB “Hmmm, a whiff of ginger. Bitter finish, quite spicy on the palate.”
OPH “Smooth, good ruby colour. Can’t taste the whisky though, so what’s the point of it?”
MB “Gets more mellow after a few mouthfuls.”
Mr E “It puts me in mind of a black sally.” [Unclear whether he was thinking of All Saints, Fulham or a fondly remembered barmaid from his youth?]

Cotleigh: Red Nosed Rein Beer (5.0%) goodgood
OPH “Too sweet.”
Mr E “Has a bouquet of wet straw, slightly aromatic. The geometry is not encouraging.”
MB “Indeed, it’s not balanced, very liquoricey, needs more bitterness.”

Bateman’s: Rosey Nosey (4.9%) goodgood
OPH “Had this last Thursday before the Pigs Ear Beer Festival. Seem to recall it was dark, but remember the pump-clip having one flashing light on it!
MB “Despite the name, it fails to challenge the nostrils beyond a slight hint of broccoli. No profundity, no warmth.”

Caledonian: Santa’s Little Helpers (3.7%) goodgood
OPH “Nice darkish Scottish beer.”
MB “A bit thin. The nearest hint of Christmas is the marzipan flavour. But I’ve had worse from North of the border.”

Burtonbridge: Santi Freeze (4.5%) bad
OPH “Aptly named, it does remind me of anti-freeze. Not very pleasant.”
MB “Strange bouquet, reminiscent of mothballs. Sweetish with an acrid undertaste. We are talking mouldy marmalade.”

Hardys and Hansons: Rocking Rudolph (5.0%) goodgoodgood
MB “Very gingery on the nose.”
OPH “Yes, gingery aftertaste, hint of liquorice.”
MB “A bit marmaladey but not mouldy – rather good home-made marmalade.”

Smiles: Holly Hops (5.0%) Rating: goodgoodgood
MB “Good hoppy nose but the taste doesn’t quite live up to the promise.”
OPH “Quite nice but a bit sweet.”

Rebellion: Roasted Nuts (4.9%) goodgood
MB (inhaling deeply) “Turkish Delight! Almond flavour?”
OPH “Cold, not much going for it.”
Lager Lout “The Kronenbourg is very good in here.”
OPH “Aaaaargh.”
MB “He’s never been the same since he started that diet.”
[Cue scenario from the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party when they stuff the dormouse into the teapot.]

Hopback: Pickled Santa (6.2%) goodgoodgoodgoodgood
MB “A well-tuned beer with warm, spicy harmonics. I could drink a lot of this.”


Pickled Santa would seem to be the best of the bunch (sadly, my esteemed colleague missed out on that one). But the moral of this story is that gimmicky seasonal beers with silly names (at least two of these had flashing red lights on the pump-clip) are often disappointing. If you fancy something rich, dark and heartwarming this winter, you may be better off sticking to a well-tried formula, like Young’s Winter Warmer, Fuller’s ESB or Adnams’ Fisherman’s. Cheers, and happy imbibing in 2003.

Maximus Bibendus

Reproduced by kind permission of The Ringing World.

Content © 2003-13