Fat Heads has given everyone in Cleveland an early present as I’m happy to report; this excellent brewery has officially entered the bottling game. That’s right, starting last Friday night, the Cleveland area brewery released their “Happy Holidays Christmas Ale,” available only at their North Olmstead brewpub. While the brewery is best known for their flagship Headhunter IPA (silver medal winner at the 2010 Great American Beer Festival), the release of a Christmas beer in Cleveland for their first bottled beer was a no-brainer for two reasons. First, the timing couldn’t be better. But more than the seasonality, the wonderful ale serves as a statement. Here in Cleveland, a city known for it’s Christmas ales, Fat Heads has shown their brewers have the chops to hang with Great Lakes, Thirsty Dog and all the big boys. If you’re a fan of spiced holiday ales, you have to try this – get it before the season is over. Also, be on the lookout for Headhunter IPA in bottles in the next few weeks! Before getting to my review, I want to raise a glass and toast to the future for Matt, Mike, Ted and all the great people at Fat Heads. Prost!
This festive brew is an copper orange color with some yellow and red hints around the edges. The beer has very nice head retention and lace. The beer is relatively clear with just a touch of haze and has very little active carbonation. The smell is full of sugar and spice and everything nice. The spice scents come courtesy of some cinnamon, ginger, honey and nutmeg – and I think I tasted just a touch of orange peel and coriander as well. The spices are expressive and really quite well integrated. If I had to pick one, I’d say the cinnamon was dominant, but the honey and nutmeg really have nice presence too.
The taste follows the smell like Santa’s sleigh riding in the path of the spicy reindeer. The basis for the great tasting ale is courtesy of kisses of honey and ginger. While it’s pushing the upper limit at 7.4%, no noticeable alcohol breaks up the party. Excellent notes of nutmeg and ginger on the backside round out the palate. Fat Heads Christmas Ale is very well spiced without loosing the beer focus. The malt is sweet and grounds the experience, and the way the honey and caramel play nicely together isn’t lost on me for a second. The beer has a mouthfeel that is medium bodied with perfect carbonation. The crisp carbonation gives a touch of an edge then becomes creamy and subdued. The aftertaste is full of sweetness, honey, and a touch of lingering spices. Fat Heads has produced a Christmas Ale that is very drinkable and enjoyable, probably more so that any other Cleveland winter seasonal, including that one from the local brewery who dominates Christmas shelves every year.
Does Bobby Like Fat Heads Christmas Ale?
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