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Beer Review #177 Schlafly Christmas Ale

This will be my last “post-Christmas beer” until November or December. Schlafly Christmas Ale is brewed by the Saint Louis Brewery of St. Louis, Missouri. I find it interesting that Schlafly is the brand name of the beers made by the brewery. I don’t know if they have plans in the future to produce other lines of beer, but they are currently only producing the Schlafly brand of beers. Their Christmas Ale means business and comes in at 8.0% ABV. According to the bottle it is “brewed with orange peel and cloves.”

With the wording on the bottle, I was expecting a Belgian-like ale as those two ingredients are often used in Belgian-style beers. Upon further investigation, I found that this beer has a few other ingredients in it that would knock it out of Belgian contention. In addition to the ingredients listed above it also has juniper berries, ginger root, and cardamom as adjuncts into the beer. Needless to say, I was looking forward to tasting this one as it sounds like there is a lot going on.

The nose is very herbal, with cloves dominating most of the smells. There is some slight caramel and toffee peeking though along with some slight bitter orange odors. After my first taste I was surprised by how light the malt flavor was in this ale. The orange peel is in there towards the end of the malt flavors but the clove is really the strongest component to this beer. There is a lot happening before the cloves come in, but I honestly couldn’t place my finger on what all was happening.

I thought this beer had a nice mix of flavors, even if I couldn’t identify them all. The cloves are strong, but they really do a nice job of substituting for any hop flavor that would normally be in the beer. I liked, but not loved this one. If you dig cloves in your beer, this one is for you. (more…)

Beer Review #154 Schlafly Pumpkin Ale

It seems like the list of pumpkin beers grows every year. This year was no exception with many new beers coming out to the market or beers entering new areas. Schlafly Pumpkin Ale is the first beer that I have ever seen and tasted from the Saint Louis Brewery of St. Louis, Missouri. The first thing that drew me to this beer was that the label was put on upside-down. I guess that QA took the day off when they sent this batch out. Anyway, a label doesn’t take away from the liquid inside, but I am suspect of a brewery who doesn’t take care of details like this. It make me think, “if they don’t care about what their beer looks like, what else don’t they care about?”

This pumpkin ale pours a nice amber color with a bit of haze. There is an off-white head that floats on top of the beer below. The nose was nothing like what I had expected. It had some sour notes and that was about it. I didn’t get any spices, hops, malt, or pumpkins. Odd for a beer like this.

On my first taste I got a brief look at sweetness and then it was buried by spices and pumpkin flavor. The flavor was an unexpected surprise since the nose was so mild. There was a bit of a sour ending, but nothing like what the nose suggested.I also didn’t get any heat which I was expected for a 8.0% ABV beer.

I’m not sure what to think of this one. The pumpkin flavor is there, but not in a strong way and the spices are very deeply melded into the rest of the beer. I’ve heard from a few other people that this is a solid pumpkin beer so I’m going to assume that I got a bad bottle. It was still a good beer, but not what was promised. I’ll try it again next year to see if I can get a better sample of it.