11/28/21: Samuel Adams' Old Fezziwig

1:28 PM

Before we get into the blog's first proper Christmas post for the year, allow me to direct you here, to Jenny Oaks Baker's rendition of "Ding Dong Merrily on High," a track I only just discovered last night. I don't think there's a better song with which I can welcome this first Christmas beer.

The beer is Sam Adams' Old Fezziwig. While I have problems with how it's sold (we'll get into that in a bit), I'm thrilled to finally be doing up a proper post on the ale.

Look, I'm not going to go in-depth about The Boston Beer Company's Samuel Adams, mainly because I'm willing to bet that, since you're reading this beer blog primarily focused on independent craft beers, they're well on your radar. Instead, I'll just do a quick and dirty summary: Jim Koch, after finding his grandfather's lager recipe in the '80's, brewed the first batch of Boston Lager. The company's grown exponentially since, opening a few new locations (including one here in Cincinnati) and acquiring merging with my beloved Dogfish Head.

Old Fezziwig is one of Sam's winter seasonals. The ale, whose name is inspired by the classic Dickens character, is an ale that warm with notes of deep caramel and toffee. The label on my bottle specifies that it's "...brewed with cinnamon, ginger, and orange peel" and that it's ABV is a modest 5.9%.

The beer's, as you'll see if you click on the link heading the previous paragraph, only available in Sam's Beers for Cheers variety pack. It's been on a hiatus for a bit, so, believably, it's fans were excited when the brewery teased its return. I counted myself among them; I'd only had the ale once before at my in-laws', but I adored it and couldn't wait to pick it up for the blog.

So, imagine the collective fan reaction when it was announced the Fezziwig was returning only in a variety pack. We were excited to see its return, but disappointed that it was packed in with a bunch of beers we didn't want. Excepting Old Fezziwig here, I'd score the beers in the rest of the pack from 4/10 (that'd be Boston Lager--not a beer I've ever enjoyed) to 7.5/10 (that's Winter Lager). I don't want to drink those beers, nor do I want to pay for them. I just want Fezziwig.

Regardless, I'm drinking Old Fezziwig now, because I took the plunge and bought the Beers for Cheers pack. I'm not finding many Christmasy spices in its bouquet, mainly just caramel, a hint of ginger and orange peel, and a touch of hoppy coolness. That's it. Purrl gave my bottle five whiffs, so she can tolerate the beer, but she won't go out of her way to spill my open bottle trying to get her nose close to the stuff.

The flavor profile is where Old Fezziwig shines. A swig greets me with malty goodness, toffee, caramel, honey, and some Oktoberfest-inspired biscuit. This quickly settles into the whole Christmasiness of the beer: orange zest, nutmeg, cinnamon, clove, and even more honey. The finish has a touch of a hoppy bite, but that's it. There's no boozy warmth, and that absence is welcome (especially after a month full of heavy maple stouts). This is Old Fezziwig, just as I remember it from Michelle's parents' porch a couple of years ago. It's delicious. It's a beer that manages to accurately bottle the flavors and feelings of Christmas.

Old Fezziwig is a smooth ale, quaffable with a light to medium body. Really, this would be wonderfully refreshing amidst a few different Christmas seasonals.

Have you been listening to "Ding Dong Merrily on High" while reading this post? Good, but pause it really quickly to watch this clip. The Fozzie Bear version of Fezziwig, Fozziwig, in The Muppet Christmas Carol was my introduction to the character. While I've seen my fair share of Christmas Carol adaptations since I initially saw the Muppet one as a kid, I'll always think of Fezziwig as Fozziwig, first and foremost.

Fezziwig (and Fozziwig) is a character who was generous with his wealth, spending it flippantly on parties (especially Christmas parties) for his friends. Jenny Oaks Baker's take on the classic Christmas song is danciable enough, in my opinion, to be a feature of a Fezziwig Christmas bash. My toes have been tapping since I've been listening to it while writing this post.

It's a damn shame that Old Fezziwig's locked in a variety pack of beers I don't want to drink or, worse yet, don't like. This is a fine Christmas ale, and just want I want kick off the season with. It's a 9.0/10 beer. I sincerely hope Sam Adams gives it its own proper six pack next year.

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  1. I totally agree with everything said. This year I was surprised to find it in it's very own six pack at my local Total Wine & More.

    1. This is (great) news to me! I'll keep an eye out and stock up if I find any. Thanks!


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