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The holidays are nearly packed up and, though the days are creeping longer, winter has really set in. For such a time, many crave comfort. It can come from above or from companions…when you need comfort within, though, try a Winter seasonal. These are usually darker hued, complex ales, many also brewed with spices.
As a category they turn winter into a season to savor, even to anticipate. If you can manage to find any of these ridiculously tasty brews in the store, I hope this fine seasonal lineup of Full Sail beers helps you keep celebrating the season.
Wreck the Halls 6.5%abv
Appearance is a uniform, wintry chestnut brown with a light head. It smells sweet with a hint of bitter hop flower. Taste is mild at first, then develops into a hoppy even bitter burn.
It invites the reveller for another sip, draws you along like a magical holiday trance. It is approachable in the mouth, so complex as to provide new sensations with every moment it spends on your tongue. Overall, one is likely to imbibe a few too many of these and…with decorations as in life…what goes up must come down. Wreck the Halls my friends!
Wassail Winter Ale 7.2%abv
Wassail, wassail! Its appearance in stores is what lets me know it’s really winter; not a bad idea to stock up. In the glass it’s a rich dark walnut color. The smell is like a toasted invitation to imbibe. Bubbles swirl around the tongue like a snow flurry. The taste is sweet and rich and nutty. It’s well balanced, with a tiny bitter bit of closure.
I like to warm my cold nose with delicious ale. When the Wassail makes it to the shelf, it’s time to stoke the fire and hunker down with friends and loved ones. Overall this is a smooth, delightful affair that warms the belly and the soul.
Bourbon barrel-aged Imperial Stout 9.5%abv
Nearly opaque black in the glass, this nectar bears a smooth chocolate head. Smelling of prunes or port wine, it’s a little prickly or aggressive in the mouth. It gently slaps you around with velvety cream before it rolls on to dark chocolate and coffee flavors. Overall it is not as thick as you expect, and goes down very easily. There is no hint of the high-octane, rather you feel wrapped in layers of comforting flavor.
Shortest day Cascadian Dark Ale 6.6% abv
Black like coffee with an intermittently creamy khaki head. Roasted overtones waft to the nose. The flavor is both cool and refreshing, almost creamy, but then a cloud cover of hops rolls in. Complex bitter hetbs pour over the palate, leaving you with a burnt and fragrant flavor. It is altogether pleasant, like the edge of the crust of savory pie.
This is quite possibly the perfect winter beer. It is at once warm with malt comfort in the beginning but is then overlaid by hop flavor that satisfies my IPA-lover’s palate.
This lineup is so solid that it was hard to come by in 2016. If you’re looking to celebrate the cold season, let Full Sail know, ask for it in your local store, and try some!
Note: We get to keep most of the gear that we test out. While this is a perk, we try hard to give everything an unbiased review no matter what.
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