Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Abita Christmas Ale (2013)

3.9
   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 5/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 15/20
Chad9976 (1025) - Albany, New York, USA - DEC 18, 2013

 I poured a 12oz bottle into a nonic pint glass. It had a best before date of 3/7/14 and cost $2.40 ($0.20 per ounce).

Appearance: Beautiful shade of copper/magenta. Clear with plenty of carbonation visible. Pours to a medium-sized, white, frothy head which laces and retains well.

Smell: Resiny/piney hops. A touch of coffee.

Taste: I haven’t had Abita Christmas Ale since 2009. The brewery makes a point of saying the recipe for this beer changes every year, but they don’t say if it’s the same base recipe with a few tweaks (a la Anchor Christmas Ale), or if they brew to an entirely different style. Though that goes to show the power of persuasion - some say this is an amber, others say it’s a brown ale. Frankly, I could go either way, though I’ll probably guess brown ale since that’s what it’s been before.

If this is a brown ale, then it’s quite hoppy for the style. Surprisingly strong, dank, resiny hops persist throughout the palette, but especially on the finish. There’s a general earthy quality to the taste here - hints of rustic tree bark and pine needles. Not much in the way of specific malty flavors, other than to say it has a solid malt foundation. I would not describe it as sweet, though there is an interesting flavor of coffee on the finish that seems to bridge the gap between the hops and malts. While I wouldn’t describe the beer as being particularly Christmas-y, since there’s no spices, it’s more interesting than your usual brown ale.

Drinkability: While the taste to Abita Christmas Ale was surprisingly nice, its delivery was equally impressive. The mouthfeel is medium all around - flavorful yes, but nothing intense. On the thinner side with noticeably crisp effervescence that finishes rather clean considering how bitter the taste is. I’m not sure of the ABV, though most sources seem to indicate it’s 5.5%, which seems applicable since it’s a flavorful beer, but nowhere near a heavy one. 
Grade: 8/10

NOTE: Watch my review of the 2009 edition here: http://www.chadzbeerreviews.com/2009/12/abita-christmas-ale-2009-chadz-beer.html