A funny thing happened when I contacted the Breckenridge Brewery, via email, concerning the ingredients found in their Christmas Ale. All of this got started when I happened to read a few misinformed tasting notes on the Beer Advocate website, where tasters noted with approval, how well the beer blended cinnamon and other spices; actually treating this all malt Holiday beer as if it were a wassail!
Since a plethora of misinformation is available these days, online and elsewhere, I felt it was not a good idea to confuse a beer seeking novice who just might be interested in purchasing some Breckenridge Christmas Ale., but would like to know more about it. So despite knowing that spices are not a part of the formula, I nevertheless contacted Breckenridge Brewery and received this response from Terry Usry:
“I’m forwarding your email to the brewmaster to respond. I’d like for you to get your answer straight from the source!”
Nevermind that the last thing I wished to do was trouble some very busy brewmaster with an inane question that I already knew the answer to. Thank heaven the industry devoted newsletter Brewbound, provided some info- source validation:
“Breckenridge Brewery does not add spice to to Christmas Ale, rather the spicy characteristics come from the Chinook and Mt. Hood hops.”
I have sampled Breckenridge for 18 years. A Beer Doctor personal favorite, I have always loved the Scottish wee heavy aspect of this 7.1% presentation. Combined with those select spicy hops, this recipe is a malty Holiday classic. One which I hope to continue to consult, every new holiday season.
This year, for the winter Holiday celebrations, I am hoping to return to some seasonal classics, along with trying some new exciting additions, which I hope to obtain in the next few adventurous weeks. In fact. it is that adventure of discovery which has provided continual inspiration for continuing work as The Beer Doctor. And despite my rather silly complaints about the over-saturation of particular styles of beer, the truth is, every so often, I manage to find a recipe which restores my love for the art and technical mastery required in the brewing process. Creative brewing is a wonderfully human, endless activity.
If beer be the drum of love
Tasting memorable beer is something I do not forget. Not only do I recall the first tasting moment, but also the time and context in which the beer was imbibed. Thus, I recall the first time I had Anchor’s Our Special Ale. It was the 17th edition. I equally recall the first time I drank August Schell Plisner. This was before the Samuel Adams Brewery existed. In those early, pre-craft days, seeking non mass produced golden lager meant buying beers from another part of the country or world. There was for example that Affligem Noel tasted one Christmas eve, providing me early exposure to the estery magic of Belgian yeast.
In those days, the time and energy spent obtaining those rarities, are stories for another time.
This year I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the world class quality of the Rhinegeist/Sun King collaboration Emergency Malt Kit This magnificent 100 Schilling Scottish Style Ale reminds me that Cincinnati seems poised to resume its position as a vital Midwestern brew hub city. And that is not a bad thing. Emergency Malt Kit obtains its rich flavor by employing 2 row, Aromatic, Abbey, Special B and Chocolate malts, combined with Bravo and Boadicea hops.
In the case of Emergency Malt Kit, the Scottish yeast contribute to the spicy complexity of the malts. Creating a dark chocolate note in a surprisingly dry finish.
When it comes to beer exhibited as a malt showcase, well this is the stuff malt dreams are made of especially in the deep of winter. This limited release Emergency Malt Kit is not about coveting, in my opinion. This collaboration in cans is a celebratory event for a quite tasty, local, holiday seasonal that should be consumed, the sooner the better. Cheers!