The 1997 Christmas from Anchor Brewing is once again complex but well-rounded. The enticing ruby color is topped by a dark creamy head that emits both malty and spicy aromas with ginger being a prominent one. The full body is matched with complex dry and spicy flavors that produce a nice favorable combination before finishing on the dry side.
The front range of the Rockies is the source of Old Jubilation Ale from Avery Brewing. The 1997 offering features a clear dark ruby color, chocolaty and spicy aromas, and a diminishing head. The reasonable body is accompanied by a balanced flavor of malty sweetness and dry chocolate flavors. Some subtle spices are present as are subtle hops.
A clear, deep amber color, the 1996 Fall Fest from Boulder Brewing is well carbonated and offers a malty aroma, light body, sharp hoppy flavor with undertones of crystal malt.
Breckenridge Christmas Ale (1998) has a misleadingly clear amber appearance. Serious Chinook hop aromas first assault the senses. A big body is matched with smooth malty flavors, a slight chocolate note and very strong hop bittering. Complex and assertive, the flavors come through best when it warms up a bit. The bottled (2000) offers a medium body with a sweet "berry" flavor matched to a malty sweetness that finishes cleanly.
From Full Sail comes their 1996 Wassail Winter Ale with its spicy aroma, dark ruby color topped by a light creamy head. The medium body is matched to a flavor dominated by a very dry maltiness with subtle spices and noticeable alcohol.
The Full Sail 1997 Oktoberfest, dated to "enjoy by" 123097, is a clear dark amber color with reddish hues. Impressions start with the malty aroma followed next by the creamy mouthfeel and big smooth body. The flavor begins malty sweet but finishes more malty dry; very clean.
A sweet but non-malt aroma first strikes the senses. The hazy gold color meets the eyes as the Premium Honey Wheat from Humpback flows from the 22 ounce twist-off bottle. A medium-bodied brew, the light honey sweetness is followed by an expected wheat crispness.
Amber in color, the Premium Ale from Humpback shows good carbonation with light esters in the aroma. With its medium body, the flavor is evenly balanced between hops and malts. Some fruity notes are present in the dry flavor which finishes slightly hoppy.
Joining the stampede by other regionals to jump on the seasonal bandwagon, Linekugen is offering their Winter Lager With an actually malty aroma this ruby-colored beer is well-carbonated and produces a creamy head. The subdued hop flavor is aptly matched to the light body and accompanying clean dry, malty flavor.
From south of the border comes Noche Buena from Cervecería Cahutemoc. The 1997 rendition is a ruby red color with a weak head and "grainy" aroma. Well-carbonated, the dry malty flavors are well-matched to the medium body, with accompanying creamy mouthfeel, and light bittering hops.
Continuing with the previously popular fruit/spice recipe with homebrew origins, the 1996 Wicked Winter Brew from Pete's Brewing is not distinguishable from last year's brew, at least in the bottled version. The bottles are twist-offs! Topping the reddish copper liquid was a bright white foamy head produced by the intense carbonation. The raspberry aroma started forcefully but was tamed by the dry mouthfeel, medium body, smooth malty flavor, and light fruity sweetness. It finished dryly, probably due to the use of nutmeg in the recipe.
For the winter of 1997, the Pete's Winter Brew is again similar to the previous year's. On draught, the clear dark amber liquid produces fruity aromas that are followed by a medium-bodied brew offering a dry raspberry/malty flavor with subtle hops and a very dry finish. Overall, a nice complex but well-rounded brew once again.
In the Spring of 1998 Pete's offers their Springfest. This clear dark amber colored brew has a light malty aroma matched to a coarse but rich malty flavor where alcohol is lingering in the background waiting to dominate the overall flavor experience.
From Boston Brewing and its contractors comes the 1997 Sam Adams Winter Lager. This "dark wheat Bock" is a dark amber color with a medium head, light malty aromas and creamy full body. The flavor starts malty sweet but proceeds to evolve toward a crisp dryness characteristic of wheat and rye beers. The head fades fast as is typical of some higher alcohol Bock beers. Overall, a clean brew with a very dry finish. This year's label shows the months of January through June (notched at April) with the text reading "For brewery-fresh taste, purchase before month notched."
Available Fall, 1996, the Honey Raspberry Ale from Spanish Peaks Brewing Company is now receiving widespread distribution in six-pack form. The clear deep amber color contrasted sharply with the thick white head. Even from a distance the powerful raspberry aroma made its presence known. First impressions were formed by the creamy mouthfeel, medium body, and mellow sweetness. The flavor itself was a well-matched blend of subdued raspberry sweetness and maltiness. The overall flavor lingers just long enough before finishing on a sharp and dry note.
The Prospector Joes label offers a Special Dark Golden Beer. It begins with a clear amber color and produces a lasting head. The aroma is noticeably estery with a nutty bouquet. The full body accompanies a creamy mouthfeel where the dry malty flavor gives way to a slight diacytl character before finishing on the dry side.
From Denver's Wynkoop Brewing comes the 1997 Solstice Winter Ale. Dark amber in color and well-carbonated, the light head gives way to reveal malty aromas. A creamy mouthfeel and full body combine to support the dry malty/spicy flavor with its moderate hops and lingering alcoholic finish.
The 1997 Winternacht from Portland's Widmer Brewing is labeled "a rich, roasted seasonal ale." The dark amber brew offers fine bubbles and a malty aroma. The big body is joined by big malt and hops in the flavor, similar to an English Strong Ale. Overall impression: Nice. As the name implies, great on a winter's night.
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