Dec 2008 22

With temps in the single digits, I’m chiseling ice off my windshield like a trekker at the summit of Mount Kilamanjaro.  The windchill is so bitterly cold I briefly contemplate peeing on my leg to warm myself up, only to realize it would ice over so quickly I’d just end up with a frozen line of yellow snow congealing my pants to my body.  I weigh the pros and cons of getting my car unstuck from this frozen tundra of a driveway. Maybe I should go back into the house, throw on some flannel PJ’s, eat Lucky Charms with a milk stout, and watch National Lampoons Christmas Vacation.  Then my one defrosted brain cell reminds me it is the night of my favorite watering hole’s customer appreciation Christmas party.  Visions of tulip glasses dancing in my head, I continue scraping until the sheet of ice crashes on the ground like jagged pieces of glass.

Winter is not my favorite season for weather (forever a southern California beach girl…) or for beer.  I tend to gravitate more towards a hoppy beer rather than a malty one and have never quite developed a love for most Winter Warmers since they tend to be thick-bodied with a big malt presence and quite often, a noticeable alcohol taste, presumably to warm you up like a fifth of Whiskey. Traditionally, the English style Winter Warmers are not heavily spiced, but many seasonal winter ales are blended with spices and also carry the name Winter Warmers. However, I do enjoy the piquancy of a good Christmas Ale and celebrate Festivus with the joy of a nutmeg and clove laced ale paired with a sweet malt backbone.

The Troegs Mad Elf is a perennial favorite with its flavors of honey and cherries, spices and oak. I’ve had the 2008 Mad Elf a few times now and find it to taste too sweet and unbalanced compared to the wonderfully blended 2007 version. The Union Jack’s (Manatawny) customer appreciation party gave me the opportunity to compare the two side by side. The taps flowed aplenty and so much free food we barely made a dent(y?)! Best of all, the great lineup of Winter beers, from the Mad Elf to St. Bernardus and many more, finally increased my body temperature to a more tepid norm. Thanks to Tom and Kristan for their hospitality!