12/11/22: Jackie O's Pub and Brewery's Deck the Hills

3:10 PM

It was sometime in late October when I pulled into the driveway from a trip to the bottleshop. I burst through the door, my spoils in hand. I called to Michelle from the kitchen: "Jackie O's has a Christmas beer!" 

I knew then that this would be the first Christmas beer I'd visit this year. I have a pretty sparse December ahead of me: This is the first of four Christmas posts, with two of these being my traditional one-two punch for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. I've consumed a lot of Christmas beers over the years. Let's see how well Jackie O's can play into this varied style.

Do a quick search of my blog and you'll see that I'm well-acquainted with Jackie O's. At this point, I don't know what I can say about the brewery that I haven't said before. So, I'll keep it short and direct you to their "Our Story" page for the full details: The brewery (Athens, OH's first) has a storied history. From bolstering our state's craft beer scene, to winning awards, to making great beer easily accessible for college kids, Jackie O's has made a well-deserved name for themselves in the the craft beer world.

Despite all this, Deck the Hills is (to my knowledge) the brewery's first go at a Christmas-style beer. It's a 5.6% ABV English-style holiday ale aromatics of malt and floral hops and a sweet yet slightly bitter flavor profile.

The nose on my can's akin to a great brown ale. It's malty, its roasted, its slightly bitter (like a bag of freshly brown coffee). There is some vegetative notes from the hops the ale employs, but I wouldn't call these floral; verdant comes to my mind as a more apt description. It's a decadent bouquet, one that's probably too rich for Henrietta--she gave my can four quick whiffs.

A pull from my can begets more brown ale quality. Deep malty sweetness with a mild bitterness on the end. There aren't any of those typical holiday or Christmas ale frills here, no spice or peppermint or anything like that. It's just a fine ale to help brace yourself against the cold and dark late-fall/early-winter nights.

The mouthfeel here's mostly calm, but there is some bitiness as each swig finishes, tiny bubbles lingering and popping on my tongue.

One of my favorite things to do around Christmas time each year is to wake up and venture into the early-morning coldness of the house, plugging in the lights stringing our tree as I make my way into the kitchen to get the coffee brewing. Then, after I shower, I set on the couch with a hot mug of coffee in hand, looking at our glowing Christmas tree and listening (softly, so as to not wake Michelle [and now the baby, too]) to some of my favorite Christmas music. It's a warm feeling in contrast to the dark, frosty mornings. That's what drinking Deck the Hills is like.

I'll cut out the fluff here: Jackie O's Deck the Hills is a 9.0/10. It stands out amid all the Christmas beers fuss by offering a great, grounded style that doesn't deal with spices or wild adjuncts.

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