Ray's Craft Beer Newsletter
Holiday Beer Cheer
December 2012
Volume 1 Issue 6
Dear Rays Craft Beer Lovers,
Yes, the holidays are upon us. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah or Festivus, I think we can all agree that no celebration is complete without some holiday beer cheer! This issue we'll explore a variety of seasonal holiday beers that are sure to make you merrier. From spiced winter warmers, to beers with pineapple, there will be something to please any guest. Finally, we'll finish with a beer cocktail incorporating Miller High Life that's sure to be a hit at any party. 




Dan Downes
Gouden Carolus Christmas
Alpha Klaus
Noel de Calabaza
The Bruery 5 Golden Rings
Beer Cocktail
I'll be doing my part to make this a possibility in 2013
Gouden Carolus Christmas

Any one of the Belgian Christmas ales are worth picking up, but my choice this year is Gouden Carolus Noel. Anise and clove are the two most apparent seasonal spices in this Christmas concoction. The liquorice exerts itself on the palate along with dark fruits and a slight toastiness. The sweetness finishes clean, with no real noticeable hop presence. Brewed in August, they let it rest for a few months to achieve its balance and velvety smoothness.
Three Floyds Alpha Klaus Christmas Porter

Spiced Christmas beers not your thing? Dubbed "Alpha King's festive cousin," Alpha Klaus is the latest seasonal from Three Floyds brewing in Munster, Indiana. A big American porter, it is brewed with English chocolate malt, Mexican sugar and American hops. Filling the glass with an almost obsidian like color, Alpha Klaus proves that Three Floyds has much more in their portfolio than hoppy beers. You will smell dark chocolate, cocoa and a slight smokiness. These traits are further accentuated with a dash of creamed coffee flavor. Hops balance the sweetness on the back end, but this is not a bitter porter by any means. 

Jolly Pumpkin Noel de Calabaza 

Another unique Michigan choice comes Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales. Brewmaster Ron Jeffries crafts a wide variety of beers, but every single one goes through a secondary fermentation in oak with wild yeast (intentionally producing a slight sourness).  

Pouring a deep mahogany, this beer has many layers. As you smell it, bouquets of sugar plums will run through your head along with figs, hops and the wild yeast funk. Much like the aroma, there are many layers to experience. Reminiscent of of a Belgian dubbel, there will be a fig and raisin fruitiness along with oak characteristics and slight spicing. The pleasant lactic sourness, coupled with the fruit will remind you of tart, dark cherries.
Thought you were adventurous shopping at the mall during Christmas? Try this beer and test yourself!
The Bruery 5 Golden Rings
The fifth iteration in their "Twelve Beers of Christmas" series, the Bruery knocks it out of the park with Five Golden Rings. Technically a Belgian Golden Ale, The Bruery never conforms to style guidelines and this is no exception. Not only did they add cinnamon, allspice and ginger, but they really changed things up by brewing this with pineapple juice. 
Pouring a golden orange, the beer smells like fresh baked bread with the spicing indirectly making itself known. On the front end, the bready malt flavors come through along with some of the allspice. Then, as you finish, there will be a slight alcohol warmth from the 11.5% ABV and a bright burst of pineapple. Drink one now and even hold onto another until 12 Drummers Drumming comes out in 2019. Well suited as an aperitif or accompanying a salad, I personally love this this beer with Thai food. The high effervescence cleanses the palate when eating spicy foods and the pineapple flavor pairs well with Thai curry or fried rice. It's even better if they have pineapple fried rice on the menu!


Brauerei Schloss Eggenberg Samichlaus


Meaning Santa Claus in the Swiss-German dialect, Samichlaus is one of the strongest lagers in the world. It is brewed only one day a year (December 6th -- St. Nicholas Day), and then aged in the Eggenberg cellars for 10 months. During this time a slow secondary fermentation occurs that helps Samichlaus reach it's 14% ABV mark. Right off the nose, you can tell that this is one big beer. 


After the initial booziness subsides, scents of brandy, cherries and raisins will break through. These transfer to the taste along with a dark brown sugar sweetness and touch of vanilla. Despite the heavy sweetness and viscosity, this 14% behemoth still drinks smooth. Much like the 5 Golden Rings, you can enjoy this now or set it down for a couple years to allow the alcohol burn to mellow out. Whatever you do, though, it may be best to keep it away from the office holiday party.  

Beer Cocktail

Even Santa has an iPad

This beer cocktail comes from Mathias Simonis, a mixologist at Distil right here in Milwaukee. The origin of this drink comes from his childhood memories of Old Fashioneds at Grandma's house on Christmas Eve. Simonis decided to change the classic Wisconsin drink by replacing the brandy with Great Lakes Distillery's rum and pumpkin spirit and making a homemade cinnamon syrup.

3 maraschino cherries
2 orange slices
1 ounce homemade cinnamon simple syrup* or store-bought Monin cinnamon syrup
2 dashes Angostura bitters
1 squeeze of lemon
1 ounce Great Lakes Distillery Pumpkin Spirit
1 ounce Great Lakes Distillery Roaring Dan's Rum
Miller High Life

Muddle cherries, orange slices, cinnamon simple syrup, bitters and lemon in a shaker
Add rum and whiskey 
Add ice and shake well for 15 to 20 seconds. 
Strain into a highball glass and top off with the beer. 
Stir with a spoon and garnish with orange peel.
*Cinnamon simple syrup: Bring 2 cups sugar, 2 cups water and 4 cinnamon sticks to a boil, remove from heat, cover and let cool.
Thanks again for subscribing to and reading Ray's craft beer newsletter. If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please feel free to email me at dandownes@rayswine.com

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