Delicately Spiced Beer Is Perfect Holiday Treat
The beer fairy stopped by my desk one night last week, leaving for my drinking pleasure a champage-sized bottle of Telegraph Brewing Company‘s Winter Ale. My gut reaction to such seasonal brews is mixed: part of me wants to love the celebratory concoctions, but my smarter part knows that most special ales, especially winter ones, are entirely overspiced and not really much like the beer flavor I’ve come to know and love. And I feared that this one, “inspired by Mexican hot chocolate” with its blend of allspice, cinnamon, and ancho chiles, would just be another overspiced holiday offering.
So it was with great glee and surprise when I opened the ale that evening and discovered one of the tastiest winter beers I’ve ever had, a subtle balance of intriguing, creative flavors delivered on the back of a sturdy stout. The first hint of its success was the chocolatey aroma that arose when I poured the thick, black fluid into a small glass and watched a rich, cocoa-colored foamy form. The first sip revealed a thoroughly complex flavor, enhanced I’m sure by the use of the sweet ancho chile, and the following tastes made me smile more and more.
After about half my glass, I realized that I was drinking an ale whose brewers understood the notion of wintery flavors but didn’t go crazy on the spice rack. They even suggest serving it cool, not cold, which is further evidence that they know their techniques and are proud to let their flavors come out at a slightly warmer-than-normal temperature. Normally fine with sharing whatever I’ve got, it was with uncommon remorse that I lamented sharing my bottle with three other friends. (They liked it too, though I’ve had one coworker since complain that the subtle spices were still too much for her. But then again, she’s not a lover of stouts anyway.) Since that night, it’s been the only beer I talk about. And I can’t wait to find more. The Details: Telegraph Brewing Company is located on Salsipuedes Street and online at telegraphbrewing.com. The Winter Ale is available at liquor stores and on tap at various locations around town. To sign up for the brewery’s newsletter, click here.