11/26/17: The Brew Kettle's Winter Warmer

5:04 PM

Thanksgiving has come and gone. Our tree is up and lit. I've already purchased the first few gifts I'm slated to give out in a little less than a month. Yep. That time's upon us; It's Christmas, people.

Tonight I'm diving into a brew that's entirely new to me. That brew is, of course, The Brew Kettle's Winter Warmer.

But, before I go any further, I have to ask. Do you know what's sooner than Christmas? The FCC's vote to kill net neutrality on December 14th. This is important. If the FCC is successful in doing away with net neutrality, the internet as we know it will vanish. You'll have to pay out the nose for everything. Please go to battleforthenet.com to read up on why net neutrality is so important and to write your members of Congress. Then go to gofccyourself.com, hit + Express, type "Restoring Internet Freedom" in the Name(s) of Filter(s) field, and file a comment with the FCC. This is too important to neglect.

Thanks for bearing with me through that. Now onto the beer!

In the mid-90s, The Brew Kettle opened in Strongville, OH as the state's first brew-on-premise facility. Since then, they've been offering guidance to brewers of all skill levels who're looking to brew on-site while making beer of their own. They've gone through two expansion--opening a taproom/smokehouse combo in 2003 and building a new facility in Amherst, OH in 2015. Be sure to check out their About Us page for more info, including details on how you can schedule a visit to brew your own beer!

Winter Warmer is The Brew Kettle's Christmas ale. The ale's official page contains some cool downloadable (including printable tap handle art) as well as some pertinent information regarding the beer. Clocking at 8% ABV, Winter Warmer is loaded with cinnamon, lemon peel, ginger, orange peel, and honey. It's looking like it'll hit the target on what I consider to be a traditional holiday brew.

But, my very first impression of the ale itself is shirking my expectations. When I think of a Christmas ale, I typically think of a deeply spicy aroma: nutmeg, cinnamon, and ginger with maybe a touch of molasses. However, I'm getting a ton of sweetness and fruitiness from Winter Warmer's bouquet. Blame it on the honey and citrus peels, I guess. There's some toast in there, too. While it's not what I'd expected, it's still the bee's knees. Purrl, who gave my bottle seven whiffs, seems to agree.

The ale's flavor continues to shirk my expectations. After the nose I found, I really thought I'd be getting myself into something sweet. And, while what I find here is sweet, WInter Warmer tastes much more subdued than I'd anticipated. I get ginger mingling perfectly with the honey in the front of each swig. Then, in the finish, I find a fair amount of cinnamon. It's sweet and it's spicy but it's not overpowering, which is a balance that many Christmas brews struggle to find.

Winter Warmer is a bubbly beer. Maybe more bubbly than you might hope an ale to be. But, in light of the subtle holiday flavors it showcases, it's actually pretty fitting.

I lived in an off-campus apartment during my junior year at Ohio University. One weekend in November my roommate went home. The two of us lived in a two-story townhouse-style affair and I went on a massive cleaning spree during the first night he was gone. I cleaned the bathroom, the kitchen, and swept the floors and the stairs, all while flooding the place with Christmas music. And then made myself a meager meal.

I had only turned 21 the month before, so I was pretty fresh on the whole buying-beer-and-pairing-it-with-food scene. But I knew one thing that beer was always guaranteed to pair well: pizza. I threw a frozen one in the oven. When it was out I sliced it up. I cracked open one of the macro brews I'd bought earlier that day. I settled in front of the TV and pulled up a Christmas special on Netflix.

I'd had many frozen pizzas before and I've had many since. That night was the first time I remember noticing the cinnamon in the crust of the one I'd baked. Due to that and my viewing Christmasy pleasure of the evening, Winter Warmer reminds me of that small, quiet moment where I relished my clean apartment all by myself.

Winter Warmer is the first beer I've had from The Brew Kettle. It's an expertly subdued Christmas ale that's perfect for those burnt out on the style. It gets an 8.5/10 from this blog. Expect to see more Brew Kettle beers around these parts in the future.

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