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Three seasonal beers worth being thankful for

Nov. 21, 2011 By Chris Maza Reminder Assistant Editor Severe snowstorm leading to days without power? Speculation on who the next Red Sox manager will be? Wal-Mart releasing its holiday sales specials? Yep, we’re definitely closing in on Thanksgiving. So in honor of the start of the holiday season, I’ve decided to take a look at a Thanksgiving brew this year, while also looking ahead to winter with a couple of seasonal brews. The first beer I decided to sample this month was Mayflower Brewing Company’s Thanksgiving Ale. I found this treasure reasonably priced at $6.95 for a 22-ounce bottle. While it does pack a punch with 8 percent alcohol by volume, it’s not the high alcohol content that will make you want to sip this beer. It’s the amazingly complex taste This beer is truly a pleasure to drink. While pouring a dark amber with a very light head, the Thanksgiving Ale promises a great deal of flavor with hints of cinnamon, brown sugar and caramel in the nose. In addition to the hints of those qualities mentioned above, this beer has a woody, smokey flavor — due to being aged on American oak — that helps it fully embody the season. When drinking, the taste actually brought images to mind of eating a piece of pie in front of a crackling fire after the Thanksgiving feast is over. When the taste of something elicits a response like that, it clearly has become a brewer’s masterpiece. Because of the recent snowstorm, I also felt it was appropriate to dive into the winter style beers and two I tried in the past couple of weeks proved to be a solid alternative to the Samuel Adams Winter Lager, which is usually a staple in most watering holes this time of year. First, I sampled Ithaca Brewing Company’s Cold Front, a Belgian-style amber ale. Pouring a very dark, almost brown color, the Cold Front’s aroma is actually quite warming, with its nuttiness complimented by chocolate and coffee tones. What’s more, there’s no false advertising here. What you smell is what you taste. The flavors in this beer are quite complex as they intertwine and balance quite nicely. It is a bit sweeter than I thought it would be, but not overly so and it finishes very smooth. It also features a pretty high alcohol content, but like the Thanksgiving Ale, this is one you’ll drink slowly to savor the taste. Finally, Southern Tier’s Old Man winter ale crossed my path. Southern Tier, originally suggested to me by PRIME Editor Mike Briotta, has quickly become a favorite regional brewer of mine and in a recent trip to the local package store on a bitter, rainy night, I was looking for a solid winter ale to warm up the evening, so I thought I’d give it a go. This one was not nearly as dark as the Cold Front and didn’t have nearly the amount of sweet or coffee scents, either. Upon the first sip, it was clear that Southern Tier was letting the hops and malts stand front and center and they did so with tremendous balance. Some light toffee and caramel undertones were thrown in as a compliment, but the hops up front, followed by maltiness in the finish made this a solid beer. And like the others, it, too, has a high alcohol content. Any of these three would make for a terrific addition to a holiday meal, a day of ice fishing or an evening of snuggling on the couch on a cold winter’s night. Whatever you chose to celebrate this holiday with, make time to think about what and whom you’re truly thankful for. As for me, in addition to my wife, family and friends, I’m thankful that I am afforded the opportunity to share a passion of mine, as well as the readers who enjoy this column. I’ve taken pleasure in reading the feedback and the suggestions I’ve received thus far and hope you will continue to appreciate this column. Cheers. Bookmark and Share