Hey there, beer lovers of the world. Here’s something fun for you to try: a beer hangout. Now, those of you that read my reviews on anywhere near consistent basis likely are aware of my fondness for Taco Mac, and hanging out there and enjoying a few brews. Sometimes, though, you want to hang out with friends that aren’t local, and that’s where the “Virtual Pub” as I like to call it comes in.
I, and a group of fellow beer-enamored friends around the country, enjoy doing these gatherings on Google Hangout. With a webcam, internet connection and, of course, beer, you can do this too. Just a few hours ago, we crazy beer nuts finished up a group “panel review”” of a holiday brew that Dale Roberts was kind enough to furnish for us: Upslope Christmas Ale.
Upslope Christmas Ale is a seasonal release (obviously) from the Upslope Brewing Company of Boulder, Colorado. It was first released in 2009 according to the website (the brewery opened for business in 2008). Here’s some more on the beer from the brewery:
“The recipe for this beer is based upon an old homebrew recipe of mine that I use to take to Christmas parties”, says Matt Cutter, Upslope’s Founder. “In 2009, the brewery adopted this as our Christmas Ale. It was always a spiced holiday ale but last year Alex Violette, Upslope’s Head Brewer, decided to Belgianize this beer by fermenting it with Abbey Ale Yeast.”
Upslope Christmas Ale is sold in 4-packs of 16-ounce cans. The beer has an alcohol content of 8.2% by volume and is in the style of a Belgian Abbey dubbel with holiday spices added.
Upslope Christmas Ale pours to a dark ruby red color with a medium head formation and a delightfully malty nose laced with funky Belgian yeast and chocolate chip cookies. Taking a sip, this beer is loaded with flavor: chocolate, toasty nutty malt, dark fruits of raisin and black cherry, amaretto cookies, toasted almond, licorice, rock candy, a little funky yeast. Light cinnamon perhaps comes through as well. There’s a bit of peppery hop finish in the finish but only a bit. Alcohol warmth comes through as the beer warms, and maybe a bit of phenols as well.
This is a wonderful beer on many levels. My fondness for dark malty beers like doppelbocks and abbey dubbels is well known, so extra points are due for that. Upslope Christmas Ale is a welcome departure from the usual holiday/winter beers, and the spices here are not overbearing. In many ways this reminds me of Rhinoel from The Lost Rhino Brewery, also a holiday Abbey Dubbel.
I’m also happy to see this beer called a “Christmas Ale”. That almost never happens anymore, despite the fact that winter seasonals stem from the tradition of English Christmas Ales and German Weihnachtsbier (Christmas Beer).
Now for the bad news. As much as I enjoyed this beer and would love to give it 4 and a half stars on its own merits, it’s going to lose a star for the price. In it’s home market, Upslope Christmas Ale commands $13.99 for a 4-pack of 16 ounce cans. That’s just way out of whack with reality, and would unfortunately keep me from rebuying it, were it sold here in Georgia.
And remember, try a new beer today, and drink outside the box.
*Pricing data accurate at time of review or latest update. For reference only, based on actual price paid by reviewer.