Sometimes I drink beers that are total head-scratchers, but I like them
anyway. Case in point: Breckenridge Christmas Ale. It’s not really a
traditional "Christmas beer" spiced seven ways to Sunday or even a
winter warmer. It’s probably closer to an English Strong Ale, but that
doesn’t seem quite right, either. It’s flavorful and pleasing even if I
don’t get a lot of distinct character out of it.
Appearance: Beautiful cherry red hue, translucent, not much visible
carbonation. Forms an average size, white, foamy head which doesn’t
completely evaporate and does leave plenty of pretty lacing inside the
Smell: Akin to British style pub ales, only stronger. A hint of fruit, but no spice.
Taste: I appreciate a unique palate, but if I can’t describe it then
it’s a bit counter-productive. Though I’ve sampled a lot of beers in my
time I still can’t accurately pinpoint the flavors in Breckenridge
Christmas Ale. It’s slightly fruity with hints (and I emphasize HINTS)
of red apple, cherry and raisin or fig. There’s a distinct bitterness
through the middle that imparts a touch of astringency and finishes with
a subtle (and I emphasize SUBTLE) confectionery sweetness of caramel.
Is this a tasty palate? To a point, yes. There’s certainly nothing
off-putting about it, other than its overt lack of distinction. I’m
genuinely surprised there’s no nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, and other
spices present here (but conversely, I applaud them for not following
convention). It’s enough to satisfy me, but it’s missing a definite
"wow" factor. It’s a fine beer, but I can’t help but think more could be
done with it.
Drinkability: While the palate may be a bit distracting, its delivery is
not. The mouthfeel is a bit of the thicker, softer side, and the smooth
finish makes it quite easy to drink. The aftertaste is a somewhat
dry/somewhat sweet sensation, but mild and tolerable. Breckenridge
Christmas Ale seems to have the weight its 7.4% ABV body would entail,
but not the complexity of energy of something of that size.