Total Score: 92.0
My eighth beer of Christmas comes from my local Columbus Brewing Company. Established in 1988, the brewery is located in Columbus’ historic Brewery District where they also operate a nice restaurant alongside the brewery. Brewmaster Eric Bean is the man behind the beer, having studied brewing science at U.C. Davis and apprenticed with a German-trained brewmaster. Collaborating with Head Brewer Jamie Feihel, the two have produce some world-class beers, including their amazing series of hoppy beers called “A Hop Oddyssey”.
Their winter warmer, which is available starting in late October through December, is brewed with English and caramel malts and spiced with cinnamon and ginger. The bottle bears no date, although I did hear a rumor that they’ve recently purchased bottle dating machine and will soon get it into action. The pour yields a two finger head the color of a white sand beach. Beer is a nice-but-not-stunning murky copper-orange, and has chosen to ignore my wish for even a dab of lacing. A mouth-watering fresh cinnamon is the primary player in the smell. To recreate my olfactory experience you might try plugging each nostril with a cinnamon stick. As it warms the cinnamon aromas really come out to play in full force, and are joined by some less gregarious shades of ginger and mild sweetness that hints at screams apple pie. Click that link. Imagine what it smells like. That’s what I’m smelling right now. Cinnamon takes center stage in the taste as well, but is not quite so in-your-face as in the smell. Instead it’s balanced by a really nice buttered toast sweetness that complements the cinnamon very well. Good body – medium I would call it – with a super clean and moderately dry finish that keeps me raising the glass faster than I should be. Just a trace of cinnamon lingers nicely as a pleasant souvenir of each preceding sip.
Overall, this is a really great winter warmer. I know I’ve had it before, but honestly have no recollection of any previous impressions, which is strange based on how good it is. Is it as good as Great Lakes Christmas Ale? I can’t say yes or no without putting them side by side, but it’s definitely one of the few spiced beers that is good enough to be in the conversation. For what it’s worth, I think Columbus would definitely be easier to drink in greater quantities as it lacks the sometimes overly aggressive sweetness found in Great Lakes. Honestly though, you should drink a lot of both if you can.
Look: 8/10 Smell: 10/10 Taste: 9/10 All-Around: 9.5/10