12/23/2023: North Peak Brewing Company's Blitzen

7:40 PM

I nabbed this beer in Michigan while we were up there for Thanksgiving. Since, I've been waiting to review it. I have a feeling that it'll be the most traditional (for me, at least) Christmas Festivus beer I'm doing up on the blog this year. 

A can of Blitzen beside a Christmas countdown decoration.

That's it. I have no further preamble. I have North Peak's Blitzen and I'm ready to drink it for your reading pleasure.

North Peak Brewing Company's based in Traverse City, MI. Well, that's where their pub is located. Back in 1997, their brewing operation was headquartered there (making them some of the brewing old guard). That changed in 2013 when production was moved to Dexter, MI, where it's still handled to this day. 

Blitzen, the elf (according to North Peak), is a legend of northern Michigan. He appears on December twenty-third and trades sugar for feats of strength. Blitzen, the beer, is named after that cryptid. It boasts rye aromatics and flavors of malt, spice, and--if you'd believe it--rye. Yes, rye is an adjunct here. This all clocks in at a respectable 6.8% ABV.

That promised note of rye in the ale's bouquet is absolutely present. But peppered before it makes itself known are hints of malty sweetness (namely caramel), some hazelnut, ginger, and a touch of nutmeg. Overall, it's an effective nose, although Purrl only gave it six whiffs.

Purrl cat sniffing my open can of Blitzen.

Blitzen's flavor profile is rye, rye, and rye. The rest of the flavors seem to struggle to find places around the grain. Sure, they're here; I find honey and caramel on my first swig, along with some piney hops. My second brings previously hidden nuttiness (hazelnut and almond). In terms of spice, I can almost taste ginger in the finish, coupled with some malty sweetness, before the rye envelops everything and lingers for a good, long while.

The mouthfeel here's sharp and bitey, which is exactly what I want in a winter ale, and precisely what the last beer I drank for the blog was so sorely missing.

A favorite winter activity of mine is to take a nighttime walk in newly fallen snow. I head out into our road and leave my footprints in it before any cars can come by and make their tracks. If I'm lucky, snow's still falling on these occasions, so I can see it contrasted against the orangey light of the streetlamp down from my house. I can imagine drinking a beer just like this on those walks.

So, unfortunately, North Peak's Blitzen's not as spicy as I thought it'd be, it's much more built around the rye (which I have to think can only be something tied to Blitzen lore). If you like rye, grab a can. If you don't, maybe sit this one out. I'm giving the Festivus ale an 8.0/10.

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