It's Christmas Eve and never a better time to break out the dark and festive beers in my stash. Phúca was a wonderful introduction to spiced ale this Christmas and I was thirsty for more. Ale Mary arrived in my CAMRA delivery this quarter and seemed promising with its boast of cloves, coriander and ginger but even a cursory sniff clearly indicates that it has none of the subtlety found in Phúca. Cloves are to the fore, so much that it crossed my mind that this beer would be better served hot in a snifter glass. The coriander is certainly evident, which is hardly surprising because the label states that coriander oil is used in production. It is a very bitter beer indeed, and not all this bitterness stems from hops, though there is certainly a fair measure in there. The bitterness is harsh, a mixture of hops and intense spicing, and quite unpleasant until is passes from the back of the mouth and other more subtle flavours are permitted to speak. The malt comes through with a little ginger, but the bitterness really takes some getting over.
Flying Dog's Road Dog Porter is a different beast. Unlike a great many American beers, this dark ale is a fairly straight down the line porter without intense hop additions or excessive alcohol. It pours a beautiful dark rich ruby colour with mouth watering dense tan foam. Nothing is overstated in this beer. The rich roast flavour that I have come to associate with American porter is present and satisfying, and is perhaps best described as a combination of an absence of English porter flavour probably derived from brown malt, and the addition of richer malts used by American brewers, but it's not a complex beer and except for its 6% abv could be put away in great quantities.
I'm off to the West of Ireland for the rest of the holidays where the internet does not exist so I'll be quiet for a few days. For some Christmas entertainment might I suggest you check out The Beer Nut's very enjoyable work of fiction written to entertain the ICB community, and is deserving of a wider audience. Gargle's Brewery seems very familiar to me, but I can't quite put my finger on it...
Merry Christmas to those who tune in to my musings and a prosperous New Year to all.