Thursday, January 10, 2013

Winter Beer Month: HUB Abominable Winter Ale

When it comes to beer, Winter is by far my favorite season.  Out with the sissy light beers and in with the darkest and highest of abvs.  These are the beers I buy up to keep year-round.  You may think its odd to see somebody get excited about drinking Jubelale in July, but I don't care.

While I'll usually reach for something like a barley wine around this time of year, I decided to reach out and try something a little different.  Since moving to Portland, I have been visiting Hopworks Urban Brewery (HUB) more frequently than ever and have really fallen in love with their seasonal offerings.  You can't go wrong with anything they brew, but I have heard especially great things about their Abominable Winter Ale.  While I picked up a 22oz bottle, one can also purchase them in the coolest beer cans ever created.

So what is Abominable Winter Ale, exactly?  From HUB:

This mythological beer emerges from the depths of our brewery every winter. Made with Cascade, Centennial and Chinook hops and six organic malts. “A-Bomb” has a complex floral, spicy and citrus hoppiness backed up by just the right amount of malt sweetness. Don’t turn your back on the BEAST!
Uh oh.  I only know of one beast in a can, but hopefully this one is different.  Let's find out.

Brewery: Hopworks Urban Brewery
Style: American Amber / Red Ale Rating: 90 community / 92 Bros Rating: 96 Overall
Serving: 22oz Bottle
ABV: 7.3%

Appearance: Looks like a pretty typical red ale. Rather thick with a half a finger's worth of white head.

Smell: A surprising amount of citrus and hops come through with a bit of sweetness on the end. Just a little bit of caramel or molasses as well.

Taste: Intriguing. Somehow HUB has created something with all of the typical characteristics of a red ale, but gave it a creamer mouthfeel and a lot more maltiness.  Plenty of light citrus, mellow hops, and rich maltiness to round out the end.  I couldn't figure out the other flavor I was looking for, but I have to agree with the Beer Advocate Bros that it is definitely black tea.  Really a wonderful, well-balanced ale that takes the best of PNW hoppiness and what everybody wants from a winter ale.

So far I have to say this has been my most pleasant beer surprise of the winter.  I suppose the best way to classify this beer is as an alternative to your typical winter ales.  Don't get me wrong, this deserves to be drank during the winter, but it really does have its own unique style.  Pick it up if you want something that emphasizes hops and citrus over abv.


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