Winter is coming

2016-12-06-20-33-40I have made a habit in recent months of wandering off topic and filling this blog with my thoughts on politics, card transactions, recycling and dog food: for the simple reason that I’ve been trying to cut down my drinking and sampling new beers just to have something to write about didn’t seem like the smartest use of my liver.
However, I am typing this out now at the beginning of November and assuming we survive the US elections, Christmas will soon be upon us and I will throw myself off the wagon into the arms of Bacchus.
To prepare myself, I gingerly helped myself to one of the first of this years Christmas beers to enter the shop: The St Feuillien Cuvee de Noel, a classic Belgian Abbey Ale.
A very gentle nudge releases the cork with a satisfying *pop* The beer is eager to leave the bottle but never quite gets to the gusher stage, leaving my trousers thankfully unsplattered.
The head bubbles up to well above the rim of the glass, but somehow never gets out of control.
Once it’s settles a bit it still leaves a good two inches of dense, creamy foam that can be scooped up with a spoon. Underneath, the beer is a lovely walnut/russet/red colour. The nose impresses with quite vinous aromas of straw, cedar wood and polished leather. To be honest I could almost be fooled into thinking I was nosing a claret.
The palate, like most Christmas beers is sweet and indulgent (good) Packed with loads of dark, spiced fruit: Prunes, cassis, quince and raisins. It also has a more candied edge of liquorice and molasses, with a background of tart acidity building towards the finish.
The end result is like a bit like a fifty/fifty blend of port and coke. (bugger- I’ve made it sound bogging: It’s not, honest!)
Personally, I think this makes the ideal post Christmas dinner digestif. At 9 % abv, it’s boozy, but not stupidly so.
It manages to be bubbly and celebratory, but also indulgent and brooding. You can share it with your family after the big meal, or follow my lead and snaffle it all to yourself while watching an ultraviolent martial arts movie late night on boxing day.
At under nine quid for a very pretty 75cl bottle, it makes a pretty good last minute present for a workmate or extended family member, but it’s probably worthwhile throwing a bottle into the basket when your getting your emergency Christmas supplies.