By the time you read this, the holiday season will be drawing to a close. Soon we'll have only the cold comfort of lackluster holidays like President's Day to look forward to. I love deifying forefathers as much as anyone, but it just doesn't hold a candle to gifts, mistletoe and brandy spiked with eggnog.
It's all the more reason to make your New Year's Eve the stuff of legend, but take care. If you sprint headlong into that kind of debauchery, you're bound to pull a hammy. That's why I'm reviewing two very worthy holiday beers that will not only provide one final opportunity to cherish the season, but also give your liver some much-needed roadwork prior to the big match.
4 Calling Birds (11-percent ABV), The Bruery: This is a largely opaque dark ruby brew. It has the prominent scents of yams, spices and brown sugar, like someone crammed the best portions of the holiday repast into a blender.
There's a giant wallop of ginger in the first taste. Exploring further reveals spiced rum, dates and plums. This is everything you want in a Christmas dessert ale—it's stout, warm and sweet, and it has enough alcohol to slowly drown out the disapproving tones of the in-laws.
Two Tortugas (11.1-percent ABV), Karl Strauss Brewing: Strauss' latest entry in its holiday series is a big, sweet quadrupel ale. The ruddy ale has a mild fruity and bubble-gum sweetness to the aroma.
Like the 4 Calling Birds, this is a warm, boozy sipper that approaches abrasive (which will likely smooth in the cellar). It's awash in toffee and cinnamon spiciness. The finish delivers a more subtle soapiness and lingering dark fruit character that is very pleasant.
I recommend you buy one to drink and two to cellar. That way you'll have one extra to present to me next year in gratitude for my stellar beer commentary.
What? It's not like I can put a tip jar on this thing.