Total Score: 63.5
The second beer in the 12 Beers of Christmas series is a winter spiced ale from 21st Amendment Brewery called Fireside Chat (for info on 21st Amendment Brewery check out my review of 21st Amendment Brew Free! or Die IPA). According to the brewery, the beer was named after President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s evening radio broadcasts because they are both “like a kick in the butt and a hug at the same time.” It’s described as a dark English style ale that is rich and subtly spiced.
Since there’s not much left to say about the beer or brewery I did a little research about FDR’s fireside chats. If all you care about is the beer simply skip to the next paragraph, otherwise here’s a brief outline: Roosevelt gave a total of 30 addresses from 1933 to 1944 designed to help the nation out of the Depression by calming peoples’ fears, restoring confidence, and promoting his policies. The term “fireside chat” was actually coined by Roosevelt’s speechwriter Judge Clinton Sorrel. The addresses were designed to be accessible and understandable to the entire nation. To accomplish this they were broadcast at 10 PM ET, when people on the East Coast would still be awake and people on the West Coast would be home from work. The speeches were also kept short, between 15 and 45 minutes, and 80% of the words used were among the 1000 most common in the English language. The tradition of weekly radio addresses has lived on, as every President since has made a habit of regularly addressing the nation.
As for the beer…
Comes packaged in a can with a pretty cool illustration of FDR by a fireplace with a snifter of beer. Pours as dark a shade of brown as it can get without being black, with glints of amber around the edge. Warm mahogany glow when held to the light (should this really count for anything, or even be mentioned?). Would like it to be a few shades lighter. Huge fluffy beige head that is a shade lighter than the background color of the can. Decent spotty lacing. Smell is mild, primarily a strange musty cinnamon. Other spices, maybe, ginger or nutmeg are even more subtle. Underwhelming in strength, and poor in aroma. Taste is shockingly mild (for the style, that is – it could have been predicted from the smell). Spices are way understated, which, yeah, is a problem in a spiced beer (although to be fair, the did describe it as subtly spiced on their website). There’s a faint toasted-bready maltiness from what tastes like chocolate malt. Bitterness shows through in the finish and some citric hops show through a bit as well. Nothing really jumps out, so an optimist might say it’s balanced, but quite frankly this is wholly unremarkable. As the beer warms while I drink and write, it definitely improves changes. Bready malts and a bit more spice both come out a little more. On the flip-side, the aroma brings out a bit of sourness which is definitely unwelcome, and which further investigation reveals is also noted in the taste. The last sips reveal even more sourness, which lost it another ½ point. A few things that stand out as positive are well hidden alcohol and a nice full creamy body with very little carbonation that gives it a nice smoothness.
FDR would be embarrassed, as this is a pretty big disappointment. Mild as can be straight out of the fridge, with both highlights and flaws showing through as it warms. You can find better winter ales without much effort.
Look: 8.5/10 Smell: 6/10 Taste: 6/10 All-Around: 6.5/10