12/15/20: New Holland Brewing's Holiday Ale

5:52 PM

Today's beer is another special treat for me--it's the second of two Christmas beers I wasn't sure I'd be able to track down. See, New Holland announced their third Brewer's Best series beer in early November. That beer is Holiday Ale. While you could preorder it for local pickup, there was no mention of any distribution.

Two weeks ago, after failing to find the ale at a local bottleshop, I hopped on the brewery's beer locator and saw that the beer was nonexistent in my neck of the woods. I shrugged and cut my losses--I figured I had enough beers for the blog's holiday season.

All this to say that I was shocked when I found the beer at that exact same bottleshop last Friday. I grabbed a four-pack and headed directly for the checkout with it. Now, four days later, I'm ready to crack into a can. Here we go: New Holland's Holiday Ale.

New Holland was founded in Holland, MI back in 1997 by Brett VanderKamp. The brewery's at the forefront of the nation's craft beer and craft distilling scenes, brewing spirits and beers that pair well with life's memorable moments. Here's their "About" page if you want to do more reading into who/why they are.

Like I mentioned at the start of this post, Holiday Ale (which has an official writeup part way down this page) is the third release in the Brewer's Best series (last month I drank--and thoroughly enjoyed--the first release, The Poet's Brunch Stout). The ale's an eggnog-inspired winter warmer that's brewed with milk sugar and nutmeg. New Holland canned it after letting the beer sit in bourbon barrels for over three months, meaning it's picked up  booze, oak, and vanilla notes. The label on my can boasts an ABV of 9% (that same label also says the ale's brewed with vanilla extract and chai tea, too).

It's nice when a holiday beer just smells like Christmas, you know? Take Holiday Ale for instance. My first waft brings me nutmeg, chai, vanilla, and a hint of bourbon. A second waft gets me milk sugar sweetness and even more bourbon. Honestly, this has what I consider to be a perfect Christmas ale bouquet. Lottie, with her forty-six whiffs, seems to agree (meaning she likes it more than Poet's Brunch!).

The ale is more bourbon-forward than I'd expected. The first flavors here are all bourbon and booze, vanilla and oak. Immediately following those are chai and nutmeg, giving the ale a heaping dose of Christmas magic. The finish is a boozy eggnog (which is a constant drink in our house this time of year). I'm in awe at how expertly New Holland has pulled this all off in a single, holiday beer.

Holiday Ale drinks like, well, an ale. A little smoother than a standard one thanks to that milk sugar, but an ale nonetheless. I'd advise you to be careful with this big boy.

My cousin got married a few years back during the holidays. The wedding was a ton of fun--and it was the first time Michelle got to meet a lot of my extended family. 

The wedding took place in Michigan (a stone's throw from Holland) and it was right after Christmas. We stayed up there for a few days, to do the wedding and to visit family afterward. I had just received a DVD of classic Doctor Who episodes (which comprised the first few stories). Each morning I'd get up, brew a pot of coffee, pop a disc into the DVD player, and sit back, reveling in the warm coffee and the campiness. 

What does this memory have to do with today's beer? Nothing. But that time in Michigan, spent with family and with some downtime to myself, is a happy, recent Christmas memory.

I'll not pull my punches here. New Holland's Holiday Ale is phenomenal. It's something that I really hope makes an annual return. It gets 10/10 from the blog.

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