Now then, seeing as the festive period is upon us it seems only right to start sampling my collection of Christmas beers - most of which have sat in a cupboard for almost a year as I wait for the colder evenings and my taste buds yearn for the darker, spicier brews.........who the hell am I kidding I could drink these beers in high summer!
So on with our first and one from a brewery previously visited - Abbaye des Rocs and their seasonal release Speciale Noel.
Blimey this is a bit of gusher (but now thanks to a previous De Dolle accident all bottles are opened in a jug, just leave alone and let it settle) when I finally pour the contents of the bottle (and jug) into my glass what is produced is a deep, red, chestnut that is absolutely crammed full of large chunks of yeast (check the photo) but in no way do they detract from the joyous experience that follows, topped by a creamy, off white head that eventually fades to a thick cap.
Heavenly sweet aroma of rich caramel, ripe dark fruits, brown sugar and dark malts, spices are also in the mix with a seasonal cinnamon edge along with a light dusting of liquorice for good measure - what a combination.
Initial taste is of sweet caramel malts then bags of rich, spicy dark fruits (plums and cherries) and speaking of spices this time cardamom is detected. Molasses and toffee follow along with a rich chocolate note, anise flavours are more prominent as the beer warms.
All in all a fantastic kick start to a Christmas beer extravaganza.