Friday, November 20, 2009

Beer of the Week (Vol. XXXI)

This week's edition of Beer of the Week brought to you as always by the festive folk at Glen Lake Wine & Spirits. They've got everything you need for holiday cheer whether you've been naughty or nice.

Many of our current Christmas traditions and customs have come to us from our British cousins. Included among them is a focus on making merry, eating, and of course drinking:

The word "wassail" is derived from the Anglo-Saxon phrase waes hael, which means "good health." Originally, wassail was a beverage made of mulled ale, curdled cream, roasted apples, nuts, eggs, and spices. It was served for the purpose of enhancing the general merriment of the season. Like many of the ancient customs, "wassailing" has a legend to explain its origin. It seems that a beautiful Saxon maiden named Rowena presented Prince Vortigen with a bowl of wine while toasting him with the words "Waes hael." Over the centuries a great deal of ceremony had developed around the custom of drinking wassail. The bowl is carried into a room with great fanfare, a traditional carol about the drink is sung, and finally, the steaming hot beverage is served.

While the recipe for wassail has undergone some changes over the years (and thankfully so), the British continue with the tradition of brewing up special drinks for the season. Such as our featured beer this week: Samuel Smith's Winter Welcome Ale. Like some other brewers, Samuel Smith's creates a slightly different version of their winter warmer every year. Let's see how the 2009/2010 edition holds up.

Brown 12oz bottle with the brewer's name engraved on the neck. Gold foil wrapped bottle cap. A label that can only be described as busy features a vintage motorcycle parked in front of the "Taddy Cafe." Lots of various verbiage, chief among them the quote "Blessing of your heart you brew good ale" from one W. Shakespeare.

Beer Style: Winter warmer

Alcohol by Volume: 6.0%

COLOR (0-2): Clear light brown. 2

AROMA (0-2): Mostly malty. A little faint. 1

HEAD (0-2): Full white and foamy. Decent lacing. 2

TASTE (0-5): Sweet malt flavors with some hoppiness. Creamy mouth feel with a little heat. 4

AFTERTASTE (0-2): Smooth, but rather light. 1

OVERALL (0-6): A good not great winter beer that features the distinct Samuel Smith flavor. Not as heavy-bodied as many winter offerings. Very drinkable yet tasty too. Given the price for a four-pack, I don't think it quite lives up to expectations. 4

TOTAL SCORE (0-19): 14

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