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Monday, January 7, 2013

Southern Tier Brewery Co.'s 2Xmas

  • Style: Spiced (Winter) Ale
  • AVB: 8%
  • Season: Winter
  • Ease to locate: Very well distributed throughout large US liquor stores
  • Color: Reddish amber color
  • Head: Maybe a half finger with no real lacing
  • Aroma: Sweet malts with figs, raisins & orange peel
  • Mouthfeel: Syrupy but still lighter than expected
  • Finish: Short
  • Food Friendly: Not in the least bit

Instant karma's gonna get you.  In a previous post, I may have made fun of a Swedish drink that goes by the unfortunate name of "glogg."  To me, glogg is the sound a person makes when one is forced to sit through a Housewives of Pittsburgh marathon, not a cherished, traditional Nordic winter drink.  But, hey, I'm Irish.  We enjoy Guinness in the middle of July and routinely drink something that we loving refer to as Car Bombs.  What do I know?  Anyway, I recently tried an interesting seasonal holiday beer at a party.  And right smack dab on the label I saw the phrase "in the tradition of Swedish glogg."  Son.  Of.  A.  Bitch.

Glogg is a traditional mulled wine drink that is served warm.  I can see why a nice, warm, boozy drink would help a Viking get through the long winter months.  Hell, making it through a regular old Chicago winter without a remote start on my car is bad enough.  

I have no idea what this guy is saying, but it kind of makes me thirsty

Southern Tier Brewery Co. is a brewery located in Lakewood, NY (on the New York/Pennsylvania boarder.)  2Xmas is listed by the brewery as a double spiced ale, although I'm not certain what a double spiced ale has that a regular old spiced ale doesn't have. Southern Tier boasts that this beer has four different malts and two different hops, but honestly, this just blares "PR move!" Many beers amp up their hops and malts when brewing to give their base wort a bit of complexity and depth. On the other hand, maybe they just wanted to justify the 2 part of the 2Xmas.

2Xmas poured an appropriate holiday reddish honey color with hints of orange and amber. I know that most of that was just food coloring and dye, but damn, it looked so Fa La La La La to me. The beer produced very little head, maybe a half a finger and I'm being generous there. The foam dissipated faster than a $100 HD TV on Black Friday morning. I had absolutely no lacing on my glass, which made me wonder if I received a bad batch to try. However, one sniff of the beer told me that the drink was just fine as is. I could smell the typical sweet caramel malts with a softer scent of figs, raisins and the zest of orange peels. I was expecting a fruit cake in a glass and wasn't at all disappointed when I tasted it. At first the richness of the malts almost overpowered everything else. But a second try yielded the flavor of the figs and the chewiness of the raisins. The sweetness verged on almost cloying for me. The vanilla caramel taste needed the saving grace of the citrus peel to balance it out. I don't think that there was any cherry flavor to the beer, but honestly, my first thought was a can of Cherry Pepsi. I could also taste some bitterness, which was probably just the hops peeking through (thankfully so.). The mouthfeel was almost syrupy, yet not at all lush, which did confuse me at first. I think this sort of cough medicine mouthfeel makes the beer less food friendly, but decent enough to sip on it's own. For such a sweet beer, it thankfully had a rather short finish. I think this assisted the drink ability of the brew considerably.

The view from above

Overall, Southern Tier's 2Xmas wasn't my favorite holiday beer this season (that privilege goes to Sierra Nevada's Celebration Ale. Beer Geek me, please!). But all in all, it was definitely worth trying and certainly has it's own place in the ever growing holiday beer market. A few years ago, I spent a dank, rainy December day wandering around Montreal's historic Old Port area. It was the sort of day where the chill settles into your bones for a nice long winter snooze. I ducked into an adorable crepe cafe for dinner where the waitress convinced me to order a house made mulled wine. At least that's what I think she said. Everyone spoke French there and I had absolutely no idea what was happening for most of the trip. Anyway, l ordered the warm wine and anticipated a quaint old world dinner experience. Let's just say that I enjoyed the hell out of the mushroom & chicken crepes and drank more water than wine that night. So I wasn't expecting anything particularly wonderful from a glogg influenced beer. 2Xmas isn't food friendly to say the least. At the Christmas party where I was first introduced to this beer, I actually had to put it aside for a bottle of water when the food was served (shades of Montreal.). But the point is that after I was done eating, I went back to finish my glass.  Will I drink it now that the tree is down and the fruit cake is safely stored away for the year? Probably not. But I've realized something very important. I may not care for instant coffee or instant pudding. But instant karma? Sort of tasty.