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Big Beef Beer Review
By Greg

A Tale of Two Christmas Beers.  This week I review 2 beers.   Which do you want first, the good brews or the bad brews? (Sorry.)  Just like at a party, I'll start with the good beer first. I do this so the bad beer (usually Milwaukee's Beast when I hang with Tim) will go down easier later.

Great Lakes Brewing CompanyThe good beer is Christmas Ale by Great Lakes Brewing Company.  This is an excellent example of a traditional holiday or winter ale. It has a cinnamon and ginger spice flavor, a rich copper color, and a medium body that will fit with any holiday meal.

I can think of many reasons to drink this beer (just that its beer is good enough for me).  The most obvious reason though is that its delicious.  It has the perfect blend of ginger and cinnamon to greet the holidays, and just a touch of honey to eliminate any bitter after taste.

Christmas Ale is a full flavored beer, but it will not weigh you down.  The brewers suggest that is because of it's high alcohol content.  At 7.5% ABV, I had the Christmas spirit after about 2 of these.

If I can still get this beer, I will make it part of my holiday celebration as I welcome both Christmas and the New Year.  If you have the opportunity to pick this up, do so.  Unlike Christmas Jones in the most recent James Bond flick, Christmas only comes once a year, so accent your celebration with Great Lakes Brewing Company's Christmas Ale.

Ranking out of 5 BB&B's.

Availability: Get it now before it goes out of season. Only available in Nov. and Dec.



My tale of two brews continues....

Goose Island Beer Co.Goose Island Christmas Ale tastes like the bad stouts I had mentioned in an earlier review this past summer.  It has a smoky flavor that reminds me of liquid smoke.  Back in my line cook days, I used to pour it over riblets to give them a BBQ flavor.  I could probably do that with this beer.

The brewers explain on their website that "Goose Island's Christmas Ale is made with Belgian specialty malts for a deep garnet color and rich malty flavor. Crystal hops are generously added for a spicy hop aroma and clean finish."  I am not a brew expert, and cannot tell you whether or not Crystal hops are a holiday tradition. I can tell you, however, that this beer has no traditional holiday flavors.

I expected the cinnamon and spice routine, not liquid smoke.  I expected a copper or red color, not "deep garnet."  "Deep garnet" looks like weak stout to me.  This beer doesn't inspire holiday thoughts or romantic , long winter nights in front of a warm fire.  GICA tastes like a fireplace.  If you have a fireplace, go and lick the walls inside and you'll know what I'm talking about.

GICA isn't all bad.  Its disappointing because of the context in which its served. It is not a Christmas ale.  Its more like a light stout.  The brewmaster needs to lay off on the liquid smoke and add some spices if he hopes to make a good Christmas ale.  I cannot recommend this for your holiday celebration.  If I have any for mine, It will be because I still have left overs from this review.

Ranking out of 5 BB&B's.

Availability: Available throughout the holiday season. (You can always stop by and pick up my left overs.