2016 Big Hugs by Half Acre brewing

15732638_10103858710145900_5244024419511028187_oRating: 5.75/6

2016 Big Hugs by Half Acre brewing is a 10% ABV Imperial Stout brewed with Dark Matter Coffee

 

Description:
This beer is a thug. Big and chock full of tender embrace.

A specialty brew. Grab it when you see it. 10% ABV.

…Big Hugs has grappled with natural order and twisted the pillars of existence. While you hang in the balance, steal time to sit steady and spill this black rumble into your center. Big Hugs Imperial Stout is liquid char scraped from the bowels of eternity, soaked with the free spirit of an adolescent feline. Heed him and rejoice.

The time has come to release our annual homage to the accidentally violent, disastrous fly swatter we call Big Hugs. In its 8th year, Hugs has managed to break through the worm hole and find itself up against the real monsters – human kind.

 

==Introduction==
15774710_10103858709931330_2657997795286261006_o
As a huge fan of this crazy Kaiju Cat, I feel it is my duty every year to bring forth news of the return of a monster. A giant cat that can only suit its feels with hugging and massively destroying to the human race. Of course, he is loved by many. Who wouldn’t? Which makes me wonder how he would fare against Godzilla. To be honest, they would just be the best of friends. Who knows, maybe Big Hugs is Godzilla’s cat and no one knew it. Regardless, this one is one that you have to embrace. Take it on like a quest of dragons…err… cats. Like previous years, I hope to bring the beer to the site. Even if it is just the basic one. I think they do something different every year. Also, since I bought this years Dark Matter Coffee with Pink Himalayan Salt, I wonder if it will actually have that. Although, there is a version like that already. Anyways, let’s take on this Catastrophe!, Cheers!
15723438_10103858709891410_3634212225435208537_o

Aromas:
Chocolate milk shake, vanilla, dulce de leche caramel, fudge chocolate, roasted coffee, mocha, fancy coffee, espresso, dark fruit raisins, plums, prunes, currants, dark cherries, blueberries, coconut hints, tobacco, molasses, anise, leather, toffee, pecan pie, mild peanut butter and banana hints.
15724911_10103858709736720_1733920277695096374_o

Flavors:
Dark Chocolate, Milk Chocolate, Baker’s Chocolate, German Chocolate, salted dulce de leche caramel, vanilla, toasted coconut hints, dark fruit raisins, plums, prunes, currants, dark cherries, blueberries, roasted coffee, mocha, fancy coffee, espresso, vinous grape notes, Kahlua Liqueur, brownies, pecan pie, bananas, malted chocolate, chocolate mousse, oatmeal cookies, smokey notes, anise, port wine, earthy notes, cookie dough ice cream, pecan pie, toffee, rock candy, salted chocolate, tobacco, leather, brown sugar, fudge chocolate, hazelnut nectar and pralines.
15776676_10103858709641910_1033702912297359393_o

Aftertaste:
Finishing rich with caramel, sea salt, vanilla, dark chocolate, peanut butter, Fancy Coffee roast, spicy coffee complexity earthy notes and dark fruits. No alcohol in the taste, Dark like the abyss of nothingness dark body, Smooth, velvety and creamy mouthfeel and almost easy to drink despite the ABV.

 

Overall:
I find it very interesting that this version of Big Hugs, while very exceptional and delicious as always, it had some salty notes like that of the Salted Chocolate version of the beer. It is interesting because the actual coffee does have Pink Himalayan salt, yes, the little baggie in the pictures. Makes wonder if they did use the same coffee as they did in the past years or if this is a new blend. Needless to say, still one of my favorite beers and the salty notes surely does add some complexity to the beer. Now while I did love this one, I am sure the variants are even better ofcourse. This one should still be seeked though as it is the original. Here watch this Cat Video from them to find out why you need this beer in your life. LOL Cheers!
15676328_10103858709597000_1678794664869217886_o

Big Hugs from Meredith Anderson on Vimeo.

Anime Corner:
Ark Angel MR or evil Mythra from Final Fantasy XI was used in this pairing as I used her in the last pairing. The original idea had to do with the whole Big Hugs. Since she is a gray cat lady with crimson eyes, it would have fit with the Mecha Hugs Label from back in the day. The fact that she is an Ark Angel, she fits even more perfect with the evil Big Hugs and the whole Big Hugs as she squeezes the orange Mythra representing the colors of the original Big Hugs cat.

I also included original character Kisha the furry cat (character created by Kisharra of DeviantArt.com) as her color represent Christmas. This beer is released for Christmas so I figure this would work out since I found a picture of her hugging another furry cat on Christmas. Also, with that sensual stare, who wouldn’t want to hug up against a warm cat. Ofcourse, just like Big Hugs, big cats in real life are dangerous, just like the ABV on this one.
15775034_10103858709287620_4011940462523244335_o
Sources:
https://brewerianimelogs.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/564b9-chp6jf56bks039cj.jpg
https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-OqDjeY-4Tco/VkYAtgys6-I/AAAAAAAAdq4/8PD6QB9JRlM/w1602-h895/furry-%2525D1%252584%2525D1%25258D%2525D0%2525BD%2525D0%2525B4%2525D0%2525BE%2525D0%2525BC%2525D1%25258B-furry-art-furry-feline-1828652.png
http://tbib.org/images/3267/1b28a1e0f2f2b5d828c92ed0744d0309599c850f.png
https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-_E5x9oEAUbI/WAyX6gKIN6I/AAAAAAAACyQ/KpGw1qUkCCg3qGdScYywQgg-VgZ2YTSWACJoC/w1044-h1980/AYvf2nGehqw.jpg
http://i.imgur.com/2qwyCtD.jpg

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Up On The Rooftop by Four Sons Brewing

15777064_10103856769499970_694736657413844147_oRating: 5/5

Up On The Rooftop by Four Sons Brewing is a 10.1% German Doppelbock brewed with Cinnamon, Nutmeg and Allspice.

Label:
Dark, Rich and Malty German Lager brewed with Cinnamon, Nutmeg and Allspice.

Four Sons Brewing is Family Owned & Operated in Huntington Beach, CA. We invite you “Join Our Family” And Share Our Passion for excellent craft beer.

==Introduction==

A special thanks to my friend and fellow Homebrew brother, William Carranza for giving me a special present for Christmas, a Holiday DoppelBock. Now the style already being a rich a malty brew would make sense to fit with Christmas and the additional holiday ingredients of the winter season. I cannot recall if I have ever had a holiday inspired doppelbock other than the time I had the peaches and pecan Shiner Holiday Bock. However, that would be a regular bock. The first brew I had tried from Four Sons was “The Coco” which to me was a coconut Fat Tire. Probably the best Coconut Amber or the only coconut Amber I have ever tried. Amazing. This is the first time I bring a brew from 4 Sons brewing here on the website, thanks to Will, and a good way to finish up the 2016 holiday season. I look forward to trying this one. I have heard great things about them but I have not had a chance to see many of their brews around. With this one, it would be a great way to gauge them for the site and for my audience. So here is to you and your loved ones in these fine holidays, cheers!

Aromas:
Cinnaon, Nutmeg, clove spice, allspice, pumpkin spice, piloncillo sugar cone, figgy pudding, fruit cake, pecan pie, bananas, Danish cream, Ginger bread, dark fruit raisins, plums, apple pie, brown sugar, dulce de leche caramel and toffee.

Flavors:
Ginger Bread, Candy Cane, Christmas cookies, All spice, nutmeg, cinnamon, dark fruit raisins, sugar plums, figs, dates, candi sugar, pumpkin spice, piloncillo sugar cone, figgy pudding, fruit cake, pecan pie, apple pie, Danish Cream cookies, earthy hop bittermess, toasted rye bread with tangerine preserves hints, brown sugar, dulce de leche caramel, toffee, bananas, clove spice, anise, dark chocolate and strawberry hints.

Aftertaste:
Finishing with rich fruit cake flavors, dark fruit, lingering spices of cinnamon, ginger bread, clove spice, pumpkin and piloncillo sugar cone finish. No alcohol in the taste, honey amber clear body, smooth, rich, creamy and velvety mouthfeel with a sipping drinkability.

Overall:
A very delicious and perfect holiday ale. A Ginger bread Apple pie and fruit cake in liquid form. Definitely Holiday spice forward and holiday spice driven. While the dark fruit aspects that make great doppelbocks is present, the style does work giving this one a malty dark fruit and spicy fruit cake feel. Very aligned with the holidays and a 10.1% ABV to keep people warm. For being the first beer from them, I can say I am very intrigued to try their next beers. A definite recommendation.

Anime Corner:
Neopolitan from the RWBY series in Christmas attire was used in this pairing as I wanted to represent the holiday aspects of this beer. The Doppelbock aspect is represented in Neo’s Strawberry and Chocolate appearance. Essentially, she is duality. She is nice and sweet on the outside but she is definitely a dangerous trickster and part of the antagonists group in the series. Regardless, it was nice to see her in the Holiday spirit to help with this beer pairing.

Sources:
http://68.media.tumblr.com/6c60ec305285a5819e430624aefa1fc4/tumblr_oi1t1dTjfc1s5wms6o1_1280.jpg

2015 Big Hugs by Half Acre brewing

12694886_10103058666874030_3569766809273095544_o 12647486_10103058668381010_1880941113016382910_n 12694617_10103058671654450_270806987610674873_oRating: 5.75/6

2015 Big Hugs by Half Acre brewing is a 10% ABV Imperial Stout brewed with Dark Matter Coffee

Description:
This beer is a thug. Big and chock full of tender embrace.

A specialty brew. Grab it when you see it. 10% ABV.

==Introduction==

Another year, another installment of the great and mighty Big Hugs. Every year since I first had it I have tried to get a hold of this one. I have missed some installments in the past but each year is something different but similar to the previous beer. Big Hugs the Cat started off with hugging giant buildings but he moved on to hugging other things and having to fight other giant monsters. This time, a giant snake. Since they released the beer, Dark Matter also released a special Coffee as well which are the coffee beans that were aged in the same beer. Essentially, more ingredients for future beers. Anyway, let’s have a look at this, cheers!

Aromas:
Rich mocha, Fancy roasted coffee, espresso, Vanilla, Caramel, Milk Sugar, Milk Chocolate, Dark Chocolate, bakers chocolate, German Chocolate, brownies, peanut butter, pecan pie, rock candy, toffee, Bananas, clove spice, vinous grape notes, dark fruit raisins, plums, prunes, currants, coffee cake and pecan pie notes.

Flavors:
Rich Vanilla, Caramel, Milk Sugar, Milk Chocolate, Dark Chocolate, bakers chocolate, German Chocolate, Mocha, Fancy roasted coffee, espresso, vinous grape notes, java, Kahlua liqueur, Dark fruit raisins, plums, prunes, currants, dark cherries, blueberries, brownies, peanut butter, pecan pie, rock candy, toffee, Bananas, clove spice, herbal notes, tobacco, leather, smokey notes, walnuts, pralines, cinnamon, earthy notes, oatmeal cookies, cookie dough ice cream, anise, port wine, vinous grape notes, chocolate fudge, cherry and coffee cake, chocolate mousse, malt chocolate and coffee milk shake.

Aftertaste:
Finishing rich with vanilla, caramel, chocolate, peanut butter, Fancy Coffee roast, spicy coffee complexity earthy notes and dark fruits. No alcohol in the taste, Dark like the abyss of nothingness dark body, Smooth and creamy mouthfeel and almost easy to drink despite the ABV.

Overall:
What can I say about this beer that I have not mentioned before. There is a reason I get this beer every year and even implemented dark matter coffee into my homebrews. Their stuff is the stuff of craft beer legend. With the recipe using the Coffee, it elaborates so many deep dark complex, fruity yet chocolatey, caramely and other sweets of the sweets goodness. As every year I try this, I highly recommend it.
12710996_10103058672198360_7629685810090988172_o
Anime Corner:
Ark Angel MR or evil Mythra as well as Dragoon Mithra from Final Fantasy XI was used in this pairing as I used her in the last pairing. The original idea had to do with the whole Big Hugs. Since she is a gray cat lady with crimson eyes, it would have fit with the Mecha Hugs Label from back in the day. The fact that she is an Ark Angel, she fits even more perfect with the evil Big Hugs and the whole Big Hugs as she squeezes the orange Mythra representing the colors of the original Big Hugs cat. This beer as you stare at the dark yet determined Dragoon Mithra which represents victorious version of Big hugs in the under label, she wears that Snake like it was a dragon armor… a victory well suited.

Sources:
https://brewerianimelogs.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/564b9-chp6jf56bks039cj.jpg
http://cdn-images.9cloud.us/220/lusciousnet_247-mithra-sliver_647660714.jpg
http://76.72.168.19/images/2010-01-24-238064.jpeg

Bourbon Barrel Aged 7 Swans-A-Swimming by The Bruery

12672013_10103052882680600_2326553668409749550_o 12642739_10103052886602740_6119070541079520622_nRating: 5.75/6

Bourbon Barrel Aged 7 Swans-A-Swimming by The Bruery is an 11% ABV Belgian Quadruple aged in Bourbon Barrels.

Label:
WÆS HÆIL!

The Seventh Verse of Our Twelve Days of Christmas series of beers showcases the rich, malty character of a Belgian-style Quadrupel. Happy Holidays.

Bourbon Barrel Aged 7 Swans-A-Swimming is suitable for aging up to 5 years (soon after the release of 12 Drummers Drumming) when cellared properly.

==Introduction==

This special release of the 7 Swans-A-Swimming was released to the Reserve and Hoarders Society. Essentially, they release a barrel aged version of their previous year’s Christmas ale and release it in the current year. To get this, you will have to trade or find a place to get it online. Mainly a collectibles page. While the original was awesome, now a barrel aged version sounds like it can take it to the next level. The way stuff goes for my favorite style, the Belgian Dark Strong and Quads but also the way it goes with barrel aged beers, they sure elevate things to the next level. So let’s see if that is true, cheers!

Aromas:
Vanilla, Oak, Bourbon notes, dark fruits like raisins, figs, dates, plums, dark cherries, currants, blueberries, Dulce de leche caramel, marshmallows, anise, molasses, licorice, rock candy, candi sugar, Rhubarb pie, toasted coconut, macaroons, brown sugar, port wine, bananas, clove spice.

Flavors:
Dulce de leche caramel, dark fruits like raisins, figs, dates, plums, dark cherries, currants, blueberries, oak, bourbon, marshmallows, anise, molasses, licorice, rock candy, dark candi sugar, rocky road ice cream, fruit cake, brown sugar, bananas, clove spice, raspberry cobbler, vanilla, all spice, ginger bread cookies, dark chocolate, milk chocolate, pecan pie, Rhubarb ice cream, nutmeg, hazelnut nectar, toasted coconut, macaroons, rye bread, port wine and crème brulee

Aftertaste:
Lots of dark fruit, caramel, spices, dulce de leche, fruit cake, bourbon, oak, pecan pie, hazel nut, marshmallows and coconut hints. No alcohol in the taste, Brown to crimson medium to full body, smooth to silky mouthfeel yet a sipping drinkability.

Overall:
Definitely more exceptional than the original. This was expected but after trying it, I knew for sure this was the case. Lots more complex flavors stand out with the aging of the bourbon. More Dark fruit and delicious pecan pie and coconut from the few I had mentioned before. If you do happen to get it, I am sure you will enjoy it. Cheers!

Anime Corner:
Hatsune Miku and the Vocaloid Team was used in this pairing as I wanted to do 7 characters but also in the sense of swimming, they definitely are swimming in a sea of chaos as they seem to be on the hunt for something important but also trying to survive and keep their heads afloat. Some dangers present themselves nearby. May not be Christmas like but the purpose of this beer for Christmas is to bring people together and it seems like 7 characters together is just the trick to do it. Together they will survive another day. The flavor complexities of the beer, the colors of the labels and the aspect of staying together like a flock of swans are surely displayed in this pairing.

Sources:
http://img07.deviantart.net/e14c/i/2015/044/4/5/_fanart_evillious_chronicles_by_doblemjwn-d8hsg0d.jpg
http://static.zerochan.net/Vocaloid.full.1881300.jpg

Christmas Bomb! By Prairie Artisan Ales

10264576_10102422409434040_2640029733800160283_n 11025709_10102422410132640_2141404932070867740_oRating: 5.25/5

Christmas Bomb! By Prairie Artisan Ales is an 11% ABV. Imperial Stout brewed with Spices.

Label:
Made By People Who Truly Care… From Oklahoma With Love…
I Made My Family Disappear…

==Introduction==

Thanks to Aaron Mendiola from www.beermetaldude.com for providing this rarity for me. Prairie Artisan Ales is hard to find especially around California. Even harder to find is this Christmas Home Alone Liquid Gold. This label is awesome. I really like the Home Alone Parody on this. As this beer goes, it is the Holiday version of their Bomb! series. I have tried the awesome Pirate Bomb which was pretty damn amazing. Let’s see how this one compares. Cheers!

Aromas:
Dark chocolate, chocolate abuelita, milk chocolate, oak, mocha, fancy coffee, espresso, roasted coffee grains, earthy bitterness, dark fruits like prunes, raisins, dark cherries, molasses, fruit cake, cinnamon, anise, raisin bread pudding, smokey notes, marshmallow smores, and graham crackers.

Flavors:
Dark Chocolate, Milk chocolate, Chocolate Abuelita, Espresso notes, oak, mocha chocolate, roasted coffee grains, earthy bitterness, dark fruits like raisins, prunes, dark cherries, molasses, anise, cinnamon, fruit cake, raisins bread, caramel, vanilla, smoked wood, marshmallow hints, flan, ginger bread, hazelnut, pecan pie, tobacco and leather notes.

Aftertaste:
Dark chocolate, roasted coffee, earthy notes, caramel, vanilla, smokey notes, ginger bread and fruit cake. No alcohol in the taste, smooth and creamy mouthfeel, Easy to drink despite the strong ABV and pitch dark body.

Overall:
While this one does exceed my expectations a bit as it is a great and amazing beer, the other variants that are Barrel Aged give it the higher complexity. For this one, the Christmas spices make this one that amazing. As I said to, the label is freaking awesome. Takes me back to the times I would watch Home Alone for Christmas. I definitely recommend this one.

Anime Corner:
Original character and Jibril from No Game No Life were used in this pairing to go along with the label and the whole Home Alone theme and the old cover of Macauly Culkin yelling. It fits great Probably not much to do with Christmas but I did this for lulz.

Sources:
http://i.imgur.com/0Ykt3oI.jpg
http://i.imgur.com/On5KYBb.jpg

2014 Big Hugs by Half Acre brewing

10914885_10102331749327620_1838702685752348415_o 10919053_10102331750170930_1811900761799292639_n 10924151_10102331744612070_1425635638745076138_o 10928177_10102331745949390_8699194606630806242_nRating: 5.5/5

2014 Big Hugs by Half Acre brewing is a 10% ABV Imperial Stout brewed with Dark Matter Coffee

Description:
This beer is a thug. Big and chock full of tender embrace.

A specialty brew. Grab it when you see it. 10% ABV.

==Introduction==

This is the second time I try this beer and this time it is at its freshest. Thanks to www.mybeercollectibles.com for helping me obtain this one as this one is nowhere to be found here in California. Although, from what I remember in the last time I reviewed this beer, it was awesome aged. This beer is still hard to find unless you live near Chicago or can trade for it. Either way, let us see how well the fresher one does here.

Label: https://brewerianimelogs.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/c74e2-bighugs2014_over-final.jpg

Aromas:
Fancy roasted coffee, espresso, Mocha, Java Kahlua, vinous grapes, dark fruits like raisins, prunes, plum hints, dark cherry, blackberry, currants, deep dark chocolate, hazelnut nectar, rock candy, Danish Cookies, oatmeal cookies, spices like ginger, herbal notes, brownies, peppercorns and tobacco.

Flavors:
Mocha, Fancy roasted coffee, espresso, vinous grape notes, java, Kahlua, caramel, vanilla, dark fruit raisins, plums, prunes, hazelnut nectar, dark chocolate, milk chocolate, bakers chocolate, molasses, walnuts, pecan pie, toffee, brownies, rock candy, peanut butter, Danish cookies, oatmeal cookies, peppercorn, tobacco, leather, smokey hints, brownies, spicy notes, herbal hints, complex coffee notes, earthy notes, dark cherry, black berries, and prailines.

Aftertaste:
Fancy Coffee roast, spicy coffee complexity earthy notes, caramel, dark chocolate and vanilla. No alcohol in the taste, Smooth and creamy mouthfeel, almost easy to drink despite the ABV, Dark like the abyss of nothingness dark body.

Overall:
Damn, every time I try a different roasty variant from different companies such as Dark Matter or Portola Labs, they always have some really complex stuff. Like the fact that the coffee world is on its own level, just mixing it with some of these beers makes them that much more complex. Also the fact that this makes this one is just that much of an exceeding expectations kind of beer is just phenomenal. I really think the fresher the beer is better as you get more of the coffee complexity than what I did with the 2 year aged one. It is rather strange but I really feel like this was the case with this one.

Anime Corner:

Ark Angel MR or Evil Mythra from Final Fantasy XI was used in this pairing as I used her in the last pairing. The original idea had to do with the whole Big Hugs. Since she is a gray cat lady with crimson eyes, it would have fit with the Mecha Hugs Label. The fact that she is an Ark Angel, she fits even more perfect with the Cat Angel of Death and the whole Big Hugs as she squeezes the orange Mythra representing the colors of the original Big Hugs cat. This beer is evil, Feline Evil.

****Update****:
Just like the surprise toy in the cereal boxes or the special prizes they have on those McDonalds cups, Peel the original label to get so much Win in this awesome label behind the Original. Yeah I really didn’t catch this until later. YAY BigHugs!! See, Ark Angel MR and regular Mithra are great friends!
IMAG7504

Sources:
https://brewerianimelogs.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/564b9-chp6jf56bks039cj.jpg
http://oi62.tinypic.com/29zu35v.jpg

2014 Bourbon Barrel Aged Magnificat by Monkish brewing

10850301_10102225117294070_7403981009477901996_nRating: 6/5

2014 Bourbon Barrel Aged Magnificat by Monkish brewing is a 12.6% ABV Belgian Strong Dark Holiday/Christmas Ale brewed with holiday spices and aged in bourbon barrels.

Description:
Following the traditions of Belgian Noel beers, Magnificat is our first offering of a Christmas beer. Like a Belgian-style strong dark or quadruple ale, this dark beer has a rich, silky malt profile of caramel and roasted malts, rye, and oats, and reveals complementary accents of dark stone fruits and spices from our Belgain yeast. And to create that liquid-Christmas experience, the beer is spiced with clover honey, sweet and orange peels, coriander seed, nutmeg, and cinnamon.
Aged in bourbon barrels for 10 months.

==Introduction==

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all in the world. Another year is almost done and more beers to come for next year. Monkish Brewing in Torrance has released it’s, what I believe is, first bourbon barrel aged beer for Christmas. Only 50 cases of this was released to the public so if you want to get your hands on this winter warmer of a quad like dessert, visit them for sure. For being one of those breweries that is specifically inspired by the awesome works of Belgian beers, this is an awesome brewery. Cheers to another year of beers and have a Merry Christmas. Here is to you and your loved ones, Cheers!

Aromas:
Rich Dulce de leche caramel, fruit cake, vanilla, hazelnut, pecan pie, coconut cream, toffee, dark fruit raisins, plums, figs, dark cherries, chocolate cherry cordials, brown sugar, molasses, anise hints, banana, clove spice, coriander spice, pumpkin spice, ginger spice, ginger bread, all spice, nutmeg, stone fruit peaches, applies, red velvet cake, Danish cream cookies, port wine hints, marshmallow chocolate smores, almond joys and dark chocolate.

Flavors:
Rich dulce de leche caramel,oak barrel forward, bourbon, vanilla, flan, cinnamon, rich fruit cake, chocolate cherry cordials, rye bread, dark fruit raisins, plums, figs, dark cherries, almond joy chocolate, maple syrup, coconut, marshmallow, dark chocolate smores, hazelnut, pumpkin pie, pecan pie, bananas, clove spice, allspice, nutmeg, red velvet cake, Danish cream cookies, waffle cone, milk sugars, rock candy, candi sugar, burnt sugars, key lime pie, stone fruit peaches, apricot, apples, coriander spice, ginger bread, molasses, anise hints, brown sugar, toffee, port wine hints, leather notes and tobacco hints.

Aftertaste:
Holiday spices like allspice, nutmeg, bananas, bourbon, pecan pie, dark fruit, fruit cake, gionger bread and bourbon. Some alcohol in the taste but not detracting from the flavors, sipping drinkability, syrupy and creamy mouthfeel and dark crimson full body.

Overall:
Holy cow! This almost feels like drinking a Bruery Barrel Aged beer, like the Black Tuesday. This beer was quite unexpected as I was not sure how much bourbon and oak barrel character I would get and even enough to see if it would have a dramatic effect on the original magnificat. Damn, was I surprised. The richness I would expect from drinking some very epic bourbon barrel beers is right here but the fact that this one is a holiday beer and a Belgian one at that changes the direction this one goes to. IT goes into an awesome holiday direction. It is understandable that this one is limited but this one is one that would do extremely well with age. This is their strongest beer yet at Monkish and is one I truly enjoyed. If you can somehow find this one or if they still have it by the time you read this, get it. Even at 20$ I think it was all the while worth it.

Anime Corner:
Samus Aran from Nintendo’s Metroid series was chosen in this pairing since I wanted to show a Christmas time anime character. However, due to the fact that this was bourbon barrel beer, I had to bring forth a bad ass yet sexy bounty hunter santa. Samus pairs well with the colors since this beer’s label is very bright and colorful pairing with the colors of her original Zero suit but also the background. The light reds and colors of the Christmas lights also pairs with her and the Metroid hiding behind the Christmas bag. The beer is as strong as complex as her character in the variety of Metroid games but she was also one I used with Founder’s KBS. A great pairing to end the 2014 Christmas year.

Sources:
http://anime-pictures.net/pictures/get_image/237404-1000×1200-metroid-samus+aran-kuroma+%28atapi%29-long+hair-tall+image-light+erotic.jpg

7 Swans A Swimming by The Bruery

10650009_10102156730576600_749337020517018057_nRating: 5.35/5

7 Swans A Swimming by The Bruery is an 11% ABV Belgian Quadruple.

Label:
WÆS HÆIL!

The Seventh Verse of Out Twelve Days of Christmas series of beers showcases the rich, malty character of a Belgian-style quadrupel. Happy Holidays.

7 Swans-A-Swimming is suitable for aging up to 5 years (soon after the release of 12 Drummers Drumming) when cellared properly.
___

The Bruery has recently released their latest Christmas beer to the public and should be hitting many locations publicly where they sell The Bruery beers. I was unable to see if there was any special ingredients used in this beer to make it unique from the last aside from being a Belgian Quad. I love Belgian Quads so typically, these beers fit the Christmas or Holiday times. Overall, this set of Twelve days of Christmas beers have been very good overall but I would definitely like to see what this one is about. So let us take a look, cheers!

Aromas:
Pure dark fruit ll over the place with raisins, plums, figs, currants, raspberries, dark cherries, blueberries, prunes, dulce de leche caramel, anise, molasses, licorice, oats, blueberry muffins, port wine hints, pecan pie, dark candi sugars, rock candy, dark chocolate, flan, spicy nutmeg, toffee, banana and clove spice.

Flavors:
Rich dark fruit like raisins, plums, figs, currants, blueberries raspberries, dark cherry yogurt, grapes, dulce de leche caramel, dark candi sugars, rock candy, licorice, anise, molasses, dark chocolate, milk chocolate, cherry cordial, spicy nutmeg, toffee, butterscotch, brown sugar, clove spice, bananas, flan, cinnamon, all spice, vanilla, oatmeal, blueberry muffins, maple, bananas, clove spice, rye, port wine, pecan pie and Rhubarb ice cream.

Aftertaste:
Deep dark fruits like cherries, raspberries, grapes, nutmeg, cinnamon, dulce de leche, and pecan pie hints left over. No alcohol in the taste, medium to full body, smooth to silky mouthfeel yet a sipping drinkability.

Overall:
A perfect Quad with deep complexity and rich flavors. This one definitely reminded me of the Apophatic or at least one like the one Monkish brewing had a while back. Rich with a bigger dose of dark fruit that the previous beers have not shown. More of a dark fruit complexity forward character for sure while still reminding you that his is a quadrupel after all. Some of the Christmas spices are there as a means of support to remind you of what great Holiday ales are all about. It is not the biggest beer in the series but it definitely is up there with the best. Definitely get 2 to savor one now and another for the 12th release!

Anime Corner:
Hatsune Miku and the Vocaloid Team was used in this pairing as I wanted to do 7 characters but also in the sense of swimming, they definitely are swimming in a sea of chaos as they seem to be on the hunt for something important but also trying to survive and keep their heads afloat. Some dangers present themselves near by. May not be Christmas like but the purpose of this beer for Christmas is to bring people together and it seems like 7 characters together is just the trick to do it. Together they will survive another day. The flavor complexities of the beer, the colors of the labels and the aspect of staying together like a flock of swans are surely displayed in this pairing.

Sources:
http://images2.alphacoders.com/112/112140.jpg

Merry Christmas by Five Stones of Cibolo Texas

1656118_10101641997356100_621406791_nRating: 5/5

Merry Christmas by Five Stones of Cibolo Texas is a 7.9% Holiday Amber Ale handcrafted with Cinnamon, Vanilla Beans, Nutmeg and Allspice.

Label:
I remember my childhood when the phrase Merry Christmas was used without hesitation. Somehow over time, “Merry Christmas” has disappeared from many greetings you hear and see this time of year. We at 5 Stones want to say “Merry Christmas” to you and yours this season and sincerely hope you spend it with those closest to you and not miss the true meaning of Christmas. We suggest you share “Merry Christmas” with family and friends during a festive get together or just a silent winter night. Merry Christmas and cheers!
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A great thanks to Aaron at www.beermetaldude.com for passing this Christmas goodie on to me and great thanks as well to the good people at 5 Stones for making this awesome beer. We don’t normally get your beers out here in California but to do a special Christmas review, even if it did just pass about a month ago, it is still an honor to try something thing like this. While I have tried many Christmas ales in the past with similar ingredients, the addition of the vanilla beans will most likely take this to the level of where the best Christmas beers should be. Well, let me break it down as best as I can.

Aromas:
Fragrances like flowers almost, vanilla, dark fruits, raisins, cinnamon, oats, nutmeg, candy sugar, chocolate notes, caramel, ginger bread, fruit cake, mild coffee, earthy hop hints, sugar plums, molasses and anise.

Flavors:
Rich sugar plums, dark cherries. raisins, mild coffee, molasses, vanilla, caramel, fruit cake, dark chocolate, oatmeal cookie, maple notes, nutmeg, pecan pie, ginger bread, floral notes, cinnamon, rye, toffee, mint, coriander spice, anise, licorice hints, raisin bread pudding and grapes.

Aftertaste:
A good amount of the anise, nutmeg, dark fruits, vanilla, cinnamon, caramel, ginger and earthy notes linger. No alcohol in the taste, a sipping beer with moderate mouthfeel.

Overall:
Awesome stuff, definitely reminding me of the Monkish Anomaly but if it was Christmas flavored and had lots of vanilla. The vanilla definitely makes an interesting impact on a beer when normally it is not seen in other Christmas offerings. Fucking awesome beer and definitely a great Christmas offering. Hope to see this beer again, maybe later this year but definitely keep growing. I hope the Texas shipping liquor laws changes so we can see more of you guys here. Cheers!  

Anime Corner:
Elwyn from Shinning Tears was chosen for this beer pairing to go with the elf on the label. A perfect Christmas art piece to go with a perfect Christmas beer. A lot of the colors are very obvious but that’s the beauty of it. Can you find any other awesome things from this beer?

Delirium Noël by Brouwerij Huyghe

1526093_10101586398786080_1609852847_nRating: 4.5/5

Delirium Noël by Brouwerij Huyghe is 10% ABV Belgian Strong Dark Ale.

Description: None.
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This beer is in season for the winter and is found in many places where they sell craft beers or any of the Belgium Delirium Tremens series. I got this one at Downey Liquor in Downey California. These beers along with some of the other Belgium beers are some of the most delicious beers in the world.

Aromas:
Dark fruits, raisins, nutmeg, cinnamon, coriander, citrus, dulce de leche caramel, candy sugar, ginger bread, apples, peaches, pears, mild peppery spices, brown sugar and mild clove spice.

Flavors:
Dulce de leche caramel, nutmeg, citrus, orange peel, Cinnamon, figs, dark fruits, raisins, cherry notes, pink peppercorns, coriander spice, candy sugar, clove spice, mild banana flavors, ginger bread, pears, peaches, plums, brown sugar, clove spice and apples.

Aftertaste:
Leaves with raisins, ginger bread, plum, peaches, caramel and mild peppercorn spices. A sipping beer. Some alcohol in the taste but it is a sugary sweet alcohol that does not detract from the taste only adding to the nice flavors.

Overall:
A very good Holiday Belgian beer with lots of quadruple flavors. It is a must try if you can find it although you may want to be careful as some places sells this beer pretty pricey while others sell it very cheap. If you decide to get it though, it won’t disappoint at all, so if you love Belgian beers, definitely get this one.

Anime Corner:
Chloe the dark Elf from Elsword is used in this pairing in order to show many aspects of the Delirium Noel. Chloe has pink eyes and hair as well as wearing the Santa Claus outfit to pair with the Delirium pink elephant in the picture. Since she is a dark elf, it represents the dark body of the beer but also the dark fruit flavors. In the label, the pink elephant can be seen playing in the snow at night time while Chloe delivers Christmas gifts. I was unable to find a lot about Chloe’s character other that she is a powerful dark elf which may represent the 10% ABV this beer carries

Magnificat by Monkish Brewing

1484319_10101561164226340_1783595688_nRating: 4.9/5 

Magnificat by Monkish Brewing is a 10.1% ABV Belgian Strong Dark Christmas ale brewed with spices

Description:
Following the traditions of Belgian Noel beers, Magnificat is our first offering of a Christmas beer. Like a Belgian-style strong dark or quadruple ale, this dark beer has a rich, silky malt profile of caramel and roasted malts, rye, and oats, and reveals complementary accents of dark stone fruits and spices from our Belgain yeast. And to create that liquid-Christmas experience, the beer is spiced with clover honey, sweet and orange peels, coriander seed, nutmeg, and cinammon.
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It is Christmas time at the local brewery here in Lost Angeles and Monkish has finally started releasing beer bottles at their local. Knowing that this is only for the season, I decided to get one of these bottles from my local brewery for review. As I stated in my previous reviews, I loved the Anamoly and the Seme De La Vita which I loved on tap. They are barely starting distribution in the south land here and will be hitting some locations of California. If you are in the area, stop by and give them a try. Another reason I am reviewing this is because I loved it when I had it on tap

Aromas:
Lots of dark fruits like raisins, plums, prunes, oats, licorice, citrus, mint, chocolate, dulce de leche caramel, toffee, sweet bread, a bit of ginger, herbs, nutmeg, cinnamon spice, brown sugar and molasses. 

Flavors:
A subtle amount of mint and pine goes through, good amount of citrus and oranges, dark cherries, raisins, plums, maple, dark chocolate, earthy notes, molasses, anise, licorice,vanilla, caramel, ginger bread, raisin bread pudding, coriander spice, toffee, herbs, cinnamon and brown sugar.

Aftertaste:
The aftertaste is chocolatey, spicy, bready, toffee, earthy notes, citrus, herbs and peppercorns linger. A sipper but one that is very enjoyable and there is no alcohol in the taste

Overall:
This is great beer. The bottle version of the beer seems more minty than chocolate at first but let it warm up and the flavors blend very well. I love the flavors of both that I have tried so this one is a definite hit with me. Although the way Seme De la Vita hit was simply amazing. They will soon be releasing bottles of that but if you are in the area, go to Monkish and check out this awesome Belgian goodie for yourself 

Anime Corner:
Maya Natsume from Tenjou Tenge aka La Trappe Quad girl is the one I used for this pairing for several reasons. I personally call her La Trappe Quad girl because I used her in my previous review of La Trappe Quad which I used her hair colors and eyes to represent dark fruits. In this part, I show her as being ready for more of a festive Christmas tradition. So if you can buy the fact that it is a Christmas beer and she was paired with a Belgian beer in the past, just take my word for it, it works.

Figgy Pudding (2 year aged) by Block 15 brewing

1460991_10101539123790550_1482820932_n1424532_10101540492447750_1758508559_nRating: 5.75/5

Figgy Pudding (2 year aged) by Block 15 brewing is an 11% ABV English Strong Ale brewed with molasses and matured in Brandy Barrels with figs and spice

Label: 
Our holiday offering brewed with English pale and specialty malts and molasses. Matured in freshly emptied brandy barrels and conditioned with mission figs. Gently spiced with the world’s finest Ceylon cinnamon and whole nutmeg. ‘Now, bring us some figgy pudding!’ the carolers demand. We are pretty sure this ale is what they mean though you will will want to keep some for yourself.

Our brewers are dedicated in bringing beer enthusiasts traditional, unique, and challenging bottle conditioned ales brewed with the finest ingredients from our region and around the world. Drop by our brewpub and enjoy over 13 hand crafted ales and lagers in our historic downtown location. View our bottle our aging journal , real-time tap list, menus, and events at Block15.com
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As the Christmas song goes, wishing people a Merry Christmas then goes to saying, bring some Figgy Pudding and a cup of good cheer! I think this beer suffices as to everything that is Christmas. I was able to find this beer online at mybeercellar.com. If you are lucky, you will find it for a good price. Yes, it is quite the pricey one, but in order to bring forth what this beer is like, some chances are taken. So think of it as a gift from me to you. If you like the beer review, then seek it.

Aromas:
Rich reminiscence of the Lost Abbey’s Sede Vacante, Brandy, vanilla, prunes, rich figs, raisins, sugar plums, nutmeg, fruit cake, cinnamon, ginger bread, apples, caramel, toffee, butterscotch, cherries, black berry preserves on rye bread, hazelnut notes and oak

Flavors:
Rich Raisins, Figs, Plums, prunes, Brandy, dark cherries, chocolate notes, caramel, oak, vanilla, rich fruit cake, toffee, cherries, red velvet cake, apples, apricot, butterscotch, blackberry preserves, ginger bread, cinnamon, apples, pear notes, nutmeg, molasses, rye bread, raisin bread pudding, pecan pie notes, wine like sangria and communion wine

Aftertaste:
The aftertaste is rich with raisins, caramel, raisin bread pudding, fruit cake, oak and some brandy hints . There is no alcohol present in the taste from what I can tell. It is a big sipper never the less.

Overall:
Exceptionally awesome. Reminded me a lot of the Lost Abbey Sede Vacante in the flavor and smell. The only difference is that it was not as strong or super complex as that one but anything that can match it close enough is definitely worth the extra credit and my attention. If you can find this one, give it a try. It sure is cellaring pretty nicely and the 11% ABV is hard to find. If this is true Christmas in a bottle then they did a damn good job of representing it

Anime Corner:
Ignis from Jingai Makyou is used in this pairing to represent a more laid back feel to sitting down and enjoying a glass of ale. Although, even if it looks like wine, the glass she is drinking could be represented by figgy pudding as some of the brandy and rich flavors do also include some wine and dark fruit characters. She fits the label perfectly as the person on the label and her raise the glass to toast the holidays. The strength in the alcohol comes in her strength of fighting demons. She is a kind and friendly woman which is represented in the sweet figgy and dark fruit flavors. Are there any other things you can find from this pairing?

Bone Warmer by Grand Teton Brewing

1488046_10101539042204050_609663904_n 1453311_10101539042528400_225505053_nRating: 4.5/5

Bone Warmer by Grand Teton Brewing is an 8.2% ABV Imperial Amber/Red Ale

Sleeve Description: 
2013 marks the 25th anniversary of Grand Teton Brewing. In celebration, we’re bringing back three of our favorite styles for this year’s Cellar Reserves. Bonewarmer Imperial Amber was first brewed in 2006 and sold out faster than any other beer we’ve made. Bone Warmer, brewed in the “strong ale” tradition, is a beer of great character, with exceptional malt flavor and warming alcohol content.

Historically, brewers often drew three different runs from the same barley mash. The first, used for strong ale or “best beer,” had the most flavor, color and fermentable sugars, and produced beer with the most alcohol. The second was used for a less strong “table beer,” and the third, a lighter and cheaper “small beer.”

Our Bone Warmer is brewed the same way, using only the first runnings from an extraordinarily thick, strong mash of Idaho 2-Row Metcalfe and Harrington barley malt, along with dark German Munich and caramel malts. We subtly spiced it with Idaho Chinook hops, fermented it at cool temperatures and cold-conditioned it for smoothness and drinkability.

The resulting ale is the color of roasting chestnuts. It is voluptuously malty and only slightly sweet- with a hint of toffee and a warming dry finish. It’s an ideal accompaniment to rich meaty stews, wild game, roasted fowl or root vegetables, and aged cheddars.
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This beer peeked my interest a couple of times at the store but I never got around to grabbing it until I saw it a second time. I love winter warmers and holiday beers so I figured, what the hell, why not. I haven’t tried Grand Teton stuff in a long time so I figure I was over due to come back and try some of this brewery’s great beers. I have yet to have a bad experience from any of the beers I have tried form them so far. Hell, they are the ones to made Black Cauldron Stout, one of my favorites. 

Aromas:
Lots of toffee, caramel, nuts, plums, raisins, subtle earthy hops, fruit cake, apple notes, apricot nints, cantaloupe, biscuit bread, maple syrup, toasted rye bread notes, brown sugar, honey and mild berry notes 

Flavors:
Caramel, toffee, fruit cake, dark fruits like raisins and plums, hazelnut, apples, walnuts, earthy notes, toasted rye bread with blackberry preserve notes, biscuit bread, ginger bread, pecan pie notes, nutmeg, oak notes, maple, marshmallows and spices

Aftertaste:
Finishing off with rich caramel notes, fruit cake, ginger bread, dark fruit and spices, this beer is quite in the holiday spirit. 

Overall:
A very good amber that generally is peeking into the Winter warmer direction. The fact that there is a lot of holiday spices is definitely what makes I closer to the winter warmer category. While it may not be the end all be all of winter warmers or amber ales for that matter, it is definitely a very delicious brew and one that should be obtained for the holidays if you are still able to find it.

Anime Corner:
Samus Aran and Krystal from Nintendo are used in this pairing along with Coco from Crash Bandicoot. While it is not obvious as to why I chose them, I will explain. For the label aspect, the color of the dog and the blue rug and chimney compliment Krystal, Samus and Coco’s suit. While Samus is not a dog, she has some colors that fit the blond color of the dog as so does Coco. The winter warmer or bone warmer aspect might be an innuendo really. With a warm and sunset evening, if Samus and Krystal had a kid, could it look like Coco? Well, in a weird way, that is essentially what I was going for. You can also say that when love is in the air or when the winter comes, one wants to keep warm and stay close.

Big Hugs 2011 edition by Half Acre Brewing and Dark Matter Coffee Company

897_10101340750976260_551078974_nRating: 5.2/5

Big Hugs 2011 edition by Half Acre Brewing and Dark Matter Coffee Company is a 10%ABV Imperial Stout brewed with Dark Matter Coffee

Description: 
This beer is a thug. Big and chock full of tender embrace. 

A specialty brew. Grab it when you see it. 10% ABV.
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Hard to find, but aged for 2 years, this is Big Hugs. Looks like a nice kitty that wants to give a loving Christmas embrace, but in reality, it’s intentions are difficult to tell. Many have lost and have fallen victims to it’s temptations (either willfully or by bloody force). Opening this beer, it definitely smelled way different than other stouts to begin with.

First thing I noticed in the aromas were that there was a good amount of dark fruits and molasses. The beer has developed nicely. Above it are the rich cola like aromas followed by super dark chocolate, fancy coffee, a peppery and spicy aroma, possibly nutmeg notes, vanilla, caramel, toffee, brownie and hazelnuts

The flavors are like a rich fancy coffee with spices, Kahlua notes, vanilla, hazelnut, bakers and dark chocolate, hazelnut, raisins, molasses, walnuts, toffee, brownies and spices but not heat wise, definitely something else (must be the fancy coffee)

The aftertaste is roasty, semi sweet dark chocolate, spicy and a touch boozy. ABV has probably increased to a 11% or 12%. The mouth-feel is moderately syrupy so this one is definitely a sipper.

Overall, age has done this one wonders. Either that or the beer has always tasted this nice. Regardless, it was definitely interesting, different and kinda creepy.

Jubilee by Eagle Rock Brewery

224830_10100951664353970_285875234_nRating: 4.8/5

Jubilee by Eagle Rock Brewery of Los Angeles California (Yes my home county) is a 8.1% ABV Winter Warmer Spiced Old Ale. I explained in an earlier review about winter warmers. Usually malt forward, sweeter beers that only hop bitterness is used for balance and are spiced up for holiday servings.

Label:

Jubilee, spiced old ale, is a delicious holiday treat with the aromas of freshly-baked banana bread and rich caramel. The spices used in this full-bodied winter warmer combined with a hint of molasses are reminiscent of the complex flavors of gingerbread. The rounded malt sweetness is balanced by an earthy finish, and just enough bitterness to give way to a lingering warmth, subdued sweetness, and rich fruit character on the palate. 
Whether you choose to drink this beer during this holiday season or age it for another special occasion, enjoy it! Because ‘tis the season for jubilation!

The fragrance reminds me of a cherry bread, cinnamon, and grapes. It is somewhat like the Holiday Fruit Cake Ale I tried before. Yet, the flavors are more abundant than the fragrance. The flavor is pretty delicious. Just the right type of Christmas beer. Its is full of cinnamon, delicious gingerbread flavors, cherry, some pumpkin spice, vanilla, caramel, bananas, raisins, pears, apples and brown sugar cookies. This is a very damn good Christmas beer. This is a definite pickup for Christmas, it is really awesome 😛