You thought I was going to title this A Tale of Two Winters or something all Dickensy like that, right? Well, I didn't. Sometimes you just have to set aside the Dickens and move on. These are two brews from two of my favorite smaller breweries within striking range of my place, Winterizer from the Ithaca Beer Co. from New York's Finger Lakes and Winter Ale from Wachusett Brewing of Westminster, Massachusetts.
The Winterizer is a malty spiced beer, so far superior to other Christmasy spiced beers that I have had that I can't believe it. That being said, I avoid spiced Christmas brews like a very seriously avoiding person. It is not that I do not like them so much as I have had too many from homebrewing pals that they taste like homebrewing pals' beers. It pours a clear reddish chestnut with a fine tan head. On the nose a pile of nutmeg and cinnamon and in the mouth you get the ginger that the label also mentions. The nutmeg is a bit twangy rather than tangy at this concentration nutmeg-tacular. But this is lots of nice dark raisin malt with it, hiding the 8% very well, creating a balance between the forces of beer and not beer. All in all I like it and so, like that cousin we all have, not such a bad thing to see in your rec room once a year. Only three BAer reviews but each one is above 4/5. Fear not the Winterizer.
Wachusett Winter Ale...well, just give me a minute here. OK, this beer pours a little bit redder in the mahogany and a little lighter tan in the head. No spice, just a moderately rich raisin maltiness with a limestone chalky seam in the yeast. Some of the BAers' notes indicate that this is to be a Scottish style ale but I would have thought I would have met a little black malt burnt toast if that was the case. A little dry astringency at the end but mostly sweet round malt - though shy of cloying. Fruit? Maybe a note of sweet cherry in there, maybe pear. Not unpleasant at all, clean but not dynamic. It certainly could be far worse. 5% of BAers play unhappy Caeser. Later: after a while and a bit of warming, there is more there, maybe black malt but it is in with an increase of the cherry note as well.