It’s Christmas Eve Eve! Or Festivus! Or, just another Monday! Whatever it is to you, I hope it’s going well. If it’s not, I’ve got a little something that’ll help ease you through these final hours of the day. It’s Thirsty Dog’s 12 Dog’s of Christmas, a Christmas ale filled with malts, honey, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg to create one of my favorite seasonal beers. Let’s get started, shall we?
Once the cap comes off, rich notes of bready malts bloom up against your nose – bringing a nice, comfortable warmth with a hint of savory sweetness at the sides. Next, slowly building hints of cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg swirl amongst each other to create a holiday spice bloom that doesn’t grow too large as to overpower the aroma. On top, honey is drizzled over the malts and spices, adding a sticky sweetness that wraps around everything and ends with a mild tang. Finally, at the end of each breath, the bread malts slowly turn into a mildly sweeter hint of caramel, with a hint of roastiness mingling with the bread notes.
The first bottle flavors are a wonderful combination of malts, honey and spices. The malts show up first – rich and bready as it layers across the tongue and fills the mouth. Caramel notes show up immediately after, setting up on top of the bread backbone and adding a mild sweetness as well as just the slightest hint of burnt sugar roastiness. The same spices return, nicely controlled as a bloom of cinnamon and nutmeg with a spicy ginger shine around the edges. The spices add a gentle brightness as well as adding a great winter vibe to each taste. On top of the spices, mellow flavors of plums and raisins appear every now and then, adding a nice fruity freshness in between the spices. The fruit notes are even more pronounced when noted alongside the drizzles of honey that seem to swirl throughout the beer. Like the caramel, the honey adds some sticky sweetness that gives every other flavor a little boost. On the tongue, it starts with a slight bubble, but flows rich and creamy as it covers the tongue. Its aftertaste is a lingering bready richness, with sweet spices layered on top.
Its poured aroma is similar to other spiced winter ales. Spicy notes of cinnamon, nutmeg, gingerbread and brown sugar show up first, filling the nose with a mild dose of warm spices as a bready maltiness follows behind. Dark fruit notes of plums, raisins and even a black cherry or two add a touch of juicy freshness, while caramel and honey notes bring a mild touch of sweetness that swirls around the malts and fruits. Visually, it pours a richly hued reddish-brown, under a dense, fluffy off-white head.
The post-pour flavors are even more rich than the bottle. Bread malts start things off, with caramel notes showing up on top the bread. It fills the mouth and allows the cinnamon and nutmeg to burst against the tongue. Spicy moments of ginger add a slight touch of zest that is countered by the same juicy hints of plums and raisins. On top, honey glazes over everything with a fresh, mild sweetness that sinks into the savory malt richness after a few moments. On the tongue, it flows wonderfully smooth, and it’s 8.3% ABV doesn’t make even the slightest of appearances. The flavors combine with wonderful control that allows each note be noticed without overpowering.
To me, this beer is one of the best Winter brews out there. It features those great holiday spices, savory bread malts, a touch of sweetness and a hidden alcohol potency to create a hugely flavorful, wonderfully controlled ale. Additionally, it drinks like liquid silk and brings about feelings of comfort and joy with each drink. It’s alcohol oomph won’t show up until the end of the drinking, allowing you to enjoy this without losing your suave demeanor. Its price is the same as other seasonal brews, but as it’s one of the best ones out there, be sure to pick up as many as you can carry.
I recommend this beer whenever you find yourself with friends this winter season. Its warm flavors will add only smiles and happiness, and it’s alcohol strength will keep those chills at bay. Showing us the true meaning of Christmas ales, Thirsty Dog’s 12 Dogs of Christmas earns a delicious A.
Lasting Strength: 10/10
Overall: 9.7/10 A
Winter Warming Bonus: 10/10