The Hippo


May 26, 2020








 What’s in My Fridge

Newburyport Brewing Co. Tall Buoy Double IPA: Bold and juicy, this is Newburyport Brewing Company’s take on the New England-style IPA. The pour is characteristically hazy and golden. It’s certainly generously hopped and features some nice floral and tropical hop notes. This is a limited-release brew. Very nice IPA — cheers! 

Bring on the nutmeg
Malty, spicy and sweet — it’s time to enjoy holiday brews


 Many years ago, I would frequent the Eagle Brook Saloon in Norfolk, Mass., and during the holiday season, I would drink pints of the establishment’s “Sled Dog Celebration Ale.” This beer, which unfortunately exists in name only today, was the epitome of what a holiday brew should be: very dark amber, robust, toasty malts, a slight spicy sweetness, a little warmth from the elevated ABV, but not particularly heavy. A holiday beer like that is hard to come by. 

Holiday beers can be hit or miss to some extent and people can simply be put off by some festive, seasonal brews — the spices added during the brewing process, particularly the nutmeg, seem to be the culprit. Some people just don’t like nutmeg and, while I respect that, I’m OK with it. I’m not going to drink several Harpoon Winter Warmers, but I’ll enjoy one or two — it makes me want to put a Santa hat on and decorate the tree. 
Still, holiday brews are somewhat like pumpkin ales: there are plenty of good ones, but there are some festive brews that are just a little too syrupy, a little too nutmeg-y, and a little too sweet. 
While the true Sled Dog Celebration Ale was something to behold, there are plenty of delicious holiday brews for you to enjoy this season. Here are some suggestions, some from New Hampshire brewers and some from beyond Granite State borders.
Smuttynose Brewing Co. Single Digit Dubbel
Formerly called Winter Ale, or “Smutty Winter,” this is a wonderful seasonal brew that packs just enough holiday flavor and spice into your glass, without going overboard. It’s not too heavy and it’s not too sweet. That said, it does have a certain richness that says to me, “Have this on a cold day after you go sledding with the kids.”
Flying Goose Brew Pub and Grille Abbey-Style Dubbel
This beer has a little more umph to it. It’s rich and malty and you’ll definitely pick up some fruity sweetness and spice. That sweetness is balanced by a little extra heat from the 7.8-percent ABV. A wonderful brew to sip by the fire, indoors or outdoors.
Redhook Ale Brewery Winterhook Dark Ale
“It tastes like a Christmas tree in a glass,” a friend once said to me. You will notice the pleasing pine flavor right away. This is a longtime favorite of mine, boasting robust malts, that unmistakable piney flavor, balanced with notes of caramel and a crisp, dry finish. This beer also has some nice hop character that fits this brew well. Bring a six-pack to a holiday gathering — other guests will thank you. 
Wachusett Brewing Co. Winter Ale
Wachusett essentially combines an IPA with a brown ale that, frankly, could easily not be a successful marriage. But in this case it is. The beer is rich and malty, but well-balanced by the hoppiness. Nice change of pace holiday brew. Perfect after snow shoveling. 
Samuel Adams Old Fezziwig Ale
I used to get overly excited when I’d first see the Sam Adams holiday mix pack in stores. At the risk of dating myself, the pack use to feature two each of the Winter Lager, Cream Stout, Chocolate Bock, Cranberry Lambic, Boston Lager and Old Fezziwig. It also used to be an annual tradition to see just how long the Cranberry Lambic would sit, unopened in the back of the refrigerator. But it was Old Fezziwig that really got me excited. This beer isn’t for everyone, as it mixes roasty notes of caramel and chocolate, with spicy notes of ginger and cinnamon. For me, it captures the holiday season in a glass. 

Jeff Mucciarone is a senior account executive with Montagne Communications, where he provides communications support to the New Hampshire wine and spirits industry. 

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