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Friday, December 28, 2012

Revolution Brewing Co.'s Fistmus

photo by Paula Dunn

  • Style:  Spiced Ale (Revolution considers it a Red ale)
  • ABV: 6.1%
  • Season: Winter (mainly holiday)
  • Ease to locate: Illinois & parts of Ohio (beer finder)
  • Color: Brown with hints of orange amber
  • Head: One Finger off white foam
  • Aroma: Pine, citrus & holiday spices
  • Mouthfeel: Light to moderate
  • Finish: Medium
  • Food Friendly: Filling winter stews & chili, also nice with warm appetizers
    One of the best things about living during the 21st century is that we don't have to eat spoiled food (unless you're male, in your 20's and living on your own.  In that case, eat whatever is in the fridge so you don't starve to death.)  I mean, yes, I agree that DVRs IPhones and the fact that we currently have not one but two new kick ass Sherlock Holmes to marvel at is pretty damn cool too.  But I really enjoy knowing when my milk will curl before I put it in my coffee and I appreciate a bit of warning of when my baby spinach might wilt.  Some seasonal beers are also now stamping expiration dates on their bottles.  I love that.  One of the biggest perks of drinking  local is having access to the freshest brews available.  Being able to stop by your local brewery on a random Tuesday for a growler refill is a luxury that just wasn't available for most people even a few years ago.  In the past, the best a person could hope for was to get a favorite brew on tap somewhere.  Nowadays, you can buy a seasonal beer from your local liquor store and, thanks to one little "bottled on date", know that the bottle hasn't been sitting on the shelf since last Valentine's Day.
borrowed from Revolution Brewing Co.

    I was very excited to find a bottle of Revolution Brewing Co.'s spiced holiday seasonal, Fistmas, a few weeks ago.  Revolution Brewing  is located on Chicago's Northwest side and are known for their hopped up IPAs (Anti-Hero and Double Fist.)  I happen to adore their Eugene Porter and there may be a Mad Cow Milk Stout sitting in my fridge right now (or I may have drunk it by the time you're reading this.  I only have so much control.)  So I was kind of excited to taste their spiced ale.  Revolution considers Fistmas a red ale, but as I explained in my post on Lagunitas' Censored Rich Copper Ale, red ale is sort of a catch all for anything that's not a brown ale.  Of course, spiced ale is also a catch all for any beer that has all sorts of usual and unusual spices added to it.  You could have a beer with candied ginger in it or you could have a brew with jalapeno peppers.  It's kind of like Russian brew-lette sometimes.  I think I may be developing a nose for finding misplaced beer at stores.  I was crushed when the kid working the craft beer section informed me that he couldn't find the Fistmas display and that they must be sold out for the year. Insert sad face here.  Sad, yet still determined face, because I eventually unearthed a rouge box hiding under a crate of Shiner Christmas ale.  I need to figure out a way to make some cash out of finding these sold out beers.  Other than, you know, actually working in a liquor store, that is. 
    Just so you know, this video is not safe for work.  Unless you work in a liquor store.  Then let it rip full volume.
    Fistmas poured a semi clear light brown color with hints of orange amber to it.  An off white, one finger head rose quickly and gave a reasonable amount of light lacing.  I took a sniff and my first thought was of a freshly cut Christmas tree.  Sometimes an abundance of hops on the foam can be a wicked assault on your nose, more cleaning solution or car freshener than anything reasonably resembling something you'd want to willingly drink.  This smell, however, was fresh, clean, and sort of wholesome.  Like a crisp winter's day in the back woods of Maine.  Just how you would want a mouthful of pine needles to taste (Oh, like you've never thought of trying it.)  Once I got past O Tannenbaum, I could detect some cardamom and ginger scents.  The first taste was very similar to the aroma.  I could also pick out a bit of malty sweetness and a back note of orange peel under the pine and spices.  This balanced out the earthiness of the beer nicely.  I was rather shocked by how well balanced this beer actually was (I don't usually expect much out of a holiday beer.)  It was a pleasant surprise though.  Kind of like opening a cushy wrapped present from my mom and not finding socks.  It sported a well carbonated light to moderate mouthfeel and a medium finish, but I think anything heavier would have felt very out of place.  I drank this beer with a steaming bowl of chili and really liked how the various spices of the two mingled together.  I could also see Fistmas working well with a winter bean and sausage stew or a bowl of homemade butternut squash soup.
    Beer is not fruit cake.  It has a definite shelf life and should be respected as such.  Yes, certain bottles will benefit from a bit of cellaring, but for the most part, fresh is better.  My bottle of Revolution's Fistmas was bottled on 11/19/12.  I drank it on December 16th, less than a month difference between bottling and enjoying. That's kind of cool.  What isn't cool is taking all sorts of photos on your new IPhone of the beer that you are writing a review on, only to have them deleted when you synch up to some mysterious and ominous Cloud.  Luckily a co-worker had his wife send me a picture of his bottle. But it's not the same.  You'd think with two Sherlock Holmes working today things like this wouldn't happen.  Maybe in 2013.