7/25/17: Christmas in July! (West Sixth Brewing's Christmas Ale)

7:02 AM

I've been holding onto this beer for months. I'm pretty sure I picked it up in March, and by then it was already probably five months old already. But that age is nowhere near what it'll take to humbug my Christmas spirit. That's right, folks. Welcome to the third annual Christmas in July post!

This year, we have a little something special for the occasion: West Sixth's Christmas Ale. Will it enhance my holiday mood or remind me of the cruel summer weather outside?

You may recall that I talked about West Sixth the other month. In that post I mentioned that the brewery experiments with a slew of different beer styles while remaining true to their environmentally friendly ideals. I also talked about the fact that the Lexington, KY brewery, which was founded in 2012, is based out of an old bakery. They do a lot of cool things for their community, such as offering paid (!) volunteer hours for employees, should you be luck enough to work there. If you want to know more about the people behind this beer, be sure to check out the About section on the brewery's website.

But, please allow me to now turn your attention to today's main attraction: Christmas Ale. West Sixth's official page for the ale provides the following information: it's brewed with one variety of hop and six malts, it boasts cinnamon and nutmeg on the nose, it's darker than more traditional christmas ales, and it clocks in at hefty 9% ABV.

I'm definitely getting the nutmeg and cinnamon from the ale's bouquet. The above description is spot-on; this is, even in the nose, darker than what I typically expect from a yuletide beer. Where as many Christmas ales have a brighter aroma, this is deep and molassesy, almost gingerbready. But, it's warm and inviting all the same, which is exactly what I want from a holiday brew. Purrl, who gave it four whiffs, seems to like it, as well.

They flavor isn't what I was expecting, given the aroma. I expected to it be chock-full of spices in the front. But, it isn't--instead, immediately after taking a swig, I get a solid, dark ale flavor. Almost stout-like in its quality. But, in the finish, I'm picking up on those spices I commonly attribute to Christmas beers: cinnamon and nutmeg, namely. After each sip, I'm finding just a touch of sweetness lingering in my mouth. I have to say, given the beer's ABV, I was anticipating a heavy boozy flavor here. Fortunately, this isn't the case--no overly boozy notes are present.

Christmas Ale is incredibly creamy. More like a milk stout than an ale. And hell, that's just fine by me.

When I was a kid, we'd do a lot on snow days: build snow forts, have snowball fights, shovel out driveways and sidewalks, explore each newly-minted wintry landscape with a hike through the neighborhood woods, curl up with book and mug of hot chocolate. You know, usual kid snow day stuff.

But, we'd also go sledding. My neighbors across the street, an excellent pair of grandparents, had a backyard that also happened to be the best hill in the neighborhood. All we had to do was trudge across the snow-covered street, sleds in tow, to knock on their front door and ask if we could go sledding in their backyard. To their credit, they said yes each and every time. We'd be back there for hours at a time: sometimes just me, sometimes with my brother, a few times with my dad, and many times with miscellaneous neighbor kids.

Sometimes we'd build ramps that we'd try to guide our sleds (toboggans, inner tubes, cheap supermarket snowboards) over. Sometimes we'd try to pelt each other with snowballs on the way down. Sometimes we'd race to the bottom over and over and over and over. But each time we'd have to hoof it back to the top of the hill to go down again. It never got old.

Those long, fun snow days spent sledding in my neighbor's backyard are what this special Christmas in July beer bring to my mind. I have my air conditioner cranked and Christmas tunes coming through my speakers. I think I'm doing a pretty fine job of convincing myself it's actually late December today. And West Sixth's Christmas Ale gets a great deal of thanks for that. I doubt you'll find this beer now (seeing as how we're rolling into the hottest days of the year). But keep an eye out for it as we approach the winter solstice. It's getting a 9.5/10 from me. Now, if you don't mind, I'm going to go try to watch that Rudolph Christmas in July special I saw once or twice when I was younger. Ho ho ho and go light off some fireworks (because that's a July thing to do, right?)!

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