7/24/16: Christmas in July! (Revolution Brewing's Fistmas Ale)

1:43 PM

Once again, it's that magical time of the summer. Who cares if it's 90-something degrees on the opposite side of my window air conditioning unit? Not me! By sitting here with the air cranked and Christmas music flowing through my earbuds, I can (almost) convince myself that it isn't late July. With just a hint bit of holiday cheer, I can practically envision sugarplums dancing and gifts beneath the tree. All I need is a little bit of something else. But what?

Beer! Christmas beer, in particular. This is where Revolution Brewing's Fistmas Ale comes into the picture. I've never had it before so this is a completely blind review. The can I'm about to crack open has been sitting in my pantry, aging, since mid-May when I found it marked down at my local beer shop (it was out of season). Will Fistmas have me singing carols all night (and, by extension, annoying the snot out of my roommates)?

Before we get to the really good stuff (if you paid attention to this blog last holiday season you know how much I love all beers Christmas-related), let's talk about Revolution Brewing for a minute. Look it at this way, which, by the way, is how I always look at it: knowing about a brewery will give you more appreciation for their craft and the work they put into making it. Revolution, who's "About Us" page can be found here, lays claim to the title of being Illinois' largest craft beer brewery. It was conceived by Josh Deth who has been working in the industry since 1995 and has homebrewing experience predating that. In 2010 the brewery launched in Chicago's Logan Square, where it brews over fifty different beers each year.

One of those fifty plus brews is Fistmas Ale. The official page for the holiday ale details the following: Fistmas, a 6.1% ABV red ale, is crafted by steeping orange peels and ginger root with the beer. Brewed with speciality malts, the ale has notes of fresh bread, stone fruits, and caramel in its aroma.

To Revolution's credit, everything it states about Fitsmas' nose is spot on. It's got the freshly baked bread. It's got the stone fruits (I get peach and orange). And it's got the caramel. But I'm also picking up on a deep roastiness, like what you'd find in a traditional winter warmer, which comes packed with hints of coffee. Honestly, this doesn't remind me of any other red ale I've encountered. You know what it does remind me of? Christmas. Purrl, for her part, gave the ale six whiffs, which, in the event you're new to the blog, means she enjoys it.

Believe it or not, the ale's flavor is more complex than its aroma. In this, I can find the traditional red ale. However, I'm also picking up on the orange and, long after swallowing my initial swig, I find the ginger sneaking up on me. There is some of the dark, winter warmer that I noted in the nose, but not much. This is a lighter affair than what its aroma implies. There's a small amount of caramel here and, perhaps, a dash of cinnamon there. I'm also finding plenty of flavors that I lack either the vocabulary or palate to adequately describe. Were I to lay out all the nuances I find in the beer on paper (which, due to my limitations, I cannot do) it wouldn't necessarily read like a Christmas brew. But, although complex, Fistmas is a distinctly Christmas ale. (EDIT: I'll note here that, now that I'm deeper into the beer and proofing this post, I am getting more winter warmer vibe from it. It still tastes great, though.)

The brew has a good amount of carbonation to it. Hell, I'd describe it as chewy. It's doing an effective job of warming me up. Which, although ideal for the actual time of year it's meant to be consumed, isn't helping me today.

Was there ever a time when TBS didn't show a marathon of A Christmas Story on Christmas each year? I'm not sure, but I know there was a time when my family didn't know about it. One year we happened upon it by accident and watching the movie each year has been a household tradition since. I remember one Christmas, probably one or two after discovering the marathon's existence, I spent hours in front of the TV while the movie played and played and played and played.

I wasn't watching it. Well, not actively, at least. My main Christmas present that year was a Gundam GP02 model kit from "Santa" (my parents always disguised their best gifts as being from Santa). I spread the kit's pieces and instructions out in front of the TV and turned off the rest of the world while I put it together. I think I still have it packed away somewhere. Fistmas makes me think of that Christmas, that movie, and that awesome (then and, probably, now) gift from my parents.

It's July. It's hot. My cats are puddles on the floor. Michelle, my fiancée is sitting in front of the box fan, which, I think, is on high. But none of that matters to me. I have my holiday music. I have Revolution Brewing's Fistmas Ale, which gets an 8.5/10 from me. I have a little piece of Christmas on a day nothing like the holiday. Watch out, roommates. I'm finding karaoke tracks and prepping my vocal chords for caroling tonight.

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