There are Beers for Christmas and there are Christmas Beers.
Beers for Christmas are the beers that throughout the year are put away to the back of the cupboard, ‘for Christmas’. They include not only the rich, dark winter warmers that go so well with a cheese board, mince pies and an open fire – like the Moor Old Freddy Walker I stored away last June and served with the pudding on Christmas day – but also pale, hoppy beers – beers of any kind. Beers for Christmas aren’t defined by the style of the beer, but the anticipation they’ll be the most wonderful beers of the year, to be enjoyed at “the most wonderful time of the year”, or at least “the longest holiday”.
Then there are Christmas Beers. They offer the promise, but not the guarantee, of a spicy, fruity seasonal brew or a winter warmer. The one’s I’ve chosen are defined simply by having a festive themed label or pump clip. The festive theme alone can turn a pale summer session beer (Woodfordes Wherry) into a Christmas Beer (Woodfordes Wherry Christmas). Same beer, only one is a Christmas Beer.
It’s with these Christmas Beers that I’ll be counting down ten days to Christmas…
Christmas Beer #10 then, Rudolph the Red Nosed White Horse, a good example of how a Christmas Beer works. It has, of course, a Festive label – snow, a tree and a red-nosed… horse. With these decorations a copper coloured beer becomes ‘chestnut red’, and citrus flavours become ‘candied peel’.
It’s not a bad beer, and White Horse brew some great beers, but it’s not ‘like the perfect Christmas cake’, and I couldn’t taste the ‘warm citrus’. There’s a taste of caramel malt and a faint indiscernible spice, but not the ‘explosion of flavour’ promised on the label. Nevertheless it is a Christmas beer.