With perfect timing for release day, a bottle of McMenamins 2015 version of their Traditional Yuletide Ale, Kris Kringle, showed up on my doorstep last Friday, the 13th of November.
I also received and reviewed the 2013 release here.
Here is McMenamins description of this beer:
Just in time for the holidays, November 13th marks the release of this year’s McMenamins Traditional Yuletide Ale, Kris Kringle. The busy-as-elves McMenamins brewers have created another wonderful gift for your taste buds this holiday season. The 2015 version of Kris Kringle is a hearty and robust ale with a big and bold malt complexity as well as an intense and flavorful hop profile. This “winter warmer” highlights the rich, toasty, aromatic and chocolaty malt flavors as its very sturdy foundation. Generous amounts of two different hop varieties were added in five different additions, which delivers a magnificent and massive hop assault. There’s still some ginger and cinnamon added into the batch but the spices are a little more subdued than in years’ past. McMenamins brewers hope you enjoy this years’ version of our old Holiday favorite, Kris Kringle. Happy Holidays and a Wonderful New Year!
Malts: Pale Ale, Munich, Wheat, 15L & 120L Crystal, Chocolate
Hops: Centennial (Bittering, Flavor &Aroma), Cascade (Flavor & Aroma)
OG: 1.068 TG: 1.015 ABV: 6.84% IBU: 76 SRM: 15
Buzz Words: Robust, Hoppy, Festive
I popped open this very fresh “winter warmer” on Monday and quite enjoyed it. More on that in a moment.
Shortly after moving to the Pacific Northwest a couple years ago I looked forward to trying different winter warmer beers. I have gotten over them as quickly as I have pumpkin beers. Actually, I like some pumpkin (and yam) beers. What I pretty much despise are pie beers. Use the freaking pumpkin to flavor your beer. Keep the f’ing spices out of pumpkin beers though. I guess if you like Creme Brulee Stout and its ilk then have at it. But I think pie beer sucks.
Many, if not most (I’m betting), winter warmers are the equivalent of pie beers. Full of spices that are good for a sip or two but become gagging if I have to contemplate more than a couple ounces of said beer. Can’t stand beer like that.
This is NOT one of those winter warmers. McMenamins is claiming that there is still some ginger and cinnamon in this and I believe them. But the level of spicing is perfect! I had to keep asking myself whether it was spiced or not. Subtlety is the operant word. Never once did I think of this as a spice beer but only as a tasty beer that might have a small amount of almost undetectable spicing. As it should be.
In the aroma I got a medium caramel, very light cocoa and light herbal earthiness when cold. As it warmed, a very light woodiness, light nuttiness and very light vanilla notes came through.
While I did not have a strong light source at hand and the sun had set, I’d say the color was a dark copper-orange with a creamy off-white head.
The beer was creamy and medium bodied, with medium-light caramel notes, and a very light sweetness until the finish when a mild bitterness came along and cleaned up any lingering sweetness.
If this is what a winter warmer can be then I may have to reconsider my stance. But then most pumpkin beers are pie beers and I fear most winter warmers are, in my opinion, spice bombs also. No thanks.
I’ll be picking a couple bottles of this up and you should to. Only available until Christmas Day.
I also tasted our local McMenamins (Old St. Francis School) version on the previous Saturday while there for their birthday. The primary difference I noted was less carbonation and a thinner body but still tasty.
FYI: FTC. And all that: This bottle was provided to me by McMenamins.