Weber Liquor is a miracle for CC beer drinkers. They constantly shift their selection of bombers and bomber club, keeping things fresh and more affordable. I even saw the renowned annual release by Firestone-Walker.
The other day, I scoured the store for a topic to write this article and was pretty blown away by the “make your own six-pack” selection. The array proved so diverse I had a hard time picking a theme. I ended up with two six-packs. One consisted solely of my favorite brewery, Stone, and the other, a mix of winter ales.
Following with the season, I’m going to dive into some classic winter ales. Stone lovers, don’t fret! A review of them will be out Block 5.
Although I picked up six different winter releases, I’m going to look at my three favorites. Let’s kick things off with Boulder’s Avery Brewing Co.’s winter release, Old Jubilation Ale. If you’ve been reading my articles, you’ll know Avery is my favorite brewery in Colorado and Old Jubilation doesn’t disappoint.
The beer pours a beautiful roasted chestnut color and smells of sweet toffee with bready malts and a hint of alcohol. Winter ales are no stout. They usually retain a medium body with a blend of many malts and often spices. Old Jubilation boasts a blend of five malts that add to its warm flavor.
The typical malt flavors of roasted grain, toffee sweetness, and bitter cocoa are all present, but hazelnut steals the show. Slight date sweetness also joins the winter festivities, adding to the flavor, which is pared with bitter copper and coffee accents.
It’s complex, but drinkable. And at 8.3 percent ABV, it makes you feel pretty jolly.
Next, is Deschutes Jubelale. This Oregon brewery creates one of my favorite beers of all time, the Hop Henge Experimental IPA. That beer is also a winter release so keep your eyes out for it!
Following in the spirit of jubilation, Jubelale is another beautifully colored ale. It’s deep garnet color with a light brown head that’s something to enjoy even if you aren’t drinking it. The overly ripe fruit scent with a hint of spice adds to the picture.
This medium body ale tastes earthy at first, almost muddy. Not in a bad way. The malts brings out an earthen flavor that’s strong at first, but mellows into sweet fruits like fig, apricot and plum. This malty sweetness builds until the crisp hop bitterness balances the beer off, to a clean finish.
Jubelale is certainly more hoppy than Avery’s. The hops balance out Jubelale like the mocha flavor at the end of Old Jubilation. Jubelale only comes in at 6.7 percent ABV, but will still put some warmth in your stomach and some rose on your cheeks.
Finally, I’ll turn to Sierra Nevada’s Celebration. A step away from both the jubilation ales, Celebration is a wet hop ale rather than a true winter ale. Leave it to the hop addicts at Sierra Nevada to make an IPA for their winter release.
If you didn’t know, a wet hop ale is made with fresh hops rather than dried ones. This particular ale is created with the first batch of hops in the growing season. Celebration is my favorite of the wet hop ales I’ve had this year, and I’ve had a lot of them.
Moving away from a typical winter ale, Celebration pours a murky pumpkin color. This ale is much lighter than the others. The head note carries citrusy hops to your nose instead of malts.
It tastes similarly. Fresh hops, which are more citrusy and floral in taste than bitter, keep this brew from being a standard IPA. A timid sweetness from the malt backbone helps even out the flavor. While still retaining an IPA feel, this beer is not aggressive but mellow. It’s an ale that non-IPA drinkers will still be able to enjoy. Celebration may not be as heavy and warming as the others, but still warrants a purchase, as it is probably my favorite of the three.
I’d also like to make an honorable mention to Great Divide’s Hibernation Ale. It’s darker, contains more alcohol (8.7 percent), and has more of the chocolate and coffee profiles that you would find in a stout. If that sounds like your thing, it’s worth a try.