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Notes from my tasting room: Starting with Samichlaus

SamichlausAUSTRIA
Samichlaus 2001 (14.0v). The world's most famous Christmas beer. Famously strong, too. Dark amber color, almost cherry-red. Predictably, not much head retention. Slight fruit and yeastiness on the nose. Rich, clean, maltiness. Slips down with dangerous ease. Very smooth. Perhaps a little nuttier than last year, and less yeasty. Soothing, very warming.

FINLAND
Two new beers from Sinebrychoff:

Koff AmberKoff Amber (4.5 per cent alcohol by volume). Described on the neck-label as an American-style amber lager. Initially launched as a seasonal special for fall. It has a full, amber - almost tawny - color. The aroma is remarkably fresh and fruity, reminiscent of sherbet or lemonade, with some and toffeeish malty sweetness. The flavours are similar, supported by a lightly malty body Crystal malt is used, with Nugget as the bittering hop.The defining element, though, is the Amarillo hop. This is used in dry-hopping. Koff's Production Director, Kimmo Jääskeläinen, first ecountered this hop in Elysian IPA, at the Great American Beer Festival in 2000.

Winter PorterKoff Winter Porter (7.2v). A spiced version of one of my favorite brews, in the Baltic Porter (or Imperial Stout) style. Huge, darkish, head. Jet black color. Very creamy, coffeeish, aroma. Chewy, creamy, body. Lots of the typical burnt-fruit character. The flavor is given an extra kick by the spicing of ginger, cinnamon and cloves. The ginger seems most evident. Koff is one of the more hoppy Baltic Porters. The spices seem to accentuate the typical lingering dryness in the finish.

ENGLAND
The first two Christmas beers to cross my desk this year:

Caine ChristmasCain's Christmas Ale (5.0v). Full bronze color. Excellent hop aroma. Very firm and dry. Just a hint of Christmas spices (cinnamon; cough sweets?). Clean, assertive, slightly lemony, hop bitterness in the finish. Satisfying but appetising. After carol-singing?



Neame Christmas

Shepherd Neame Christmas Ale (6.7v). A varietal beer this year (all First Gold hops). Deep orange color. Big, earthy, English hop aroma. Firm, oily, creamy, body. Big, toasted-malt, flavours, developing estery notes reminiscent of vanilla, raspberries and Seville orange. A very wintry breakfast beer?


Published: NOV 7, 2001
In: Beer Hunter Online

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