Day after Christmas, and Santa is drinking #beer…Pickled Santa

I can only imagine, after traversing the world at hyper-lightspeed in order to deliver billions of presents to snot nosed kids, that Santa would want to kick back and enjoy a beer.  I mean, he worked hard.  And, after all that hard work, the guy only has 364 days off…check that, isn’t next year a Leap Year?  What a lazy bastard.  He doesn’t even make his own toys any more…it’s all Elf power.  They get no love whatsoever.  I mean, aside from the movie, who ever pays attention to the elves.  You think this guy is the face the Elf nation really wants representing them?

I highly doubt it.  And as for Santa’s fat-assedness?  Yeah, the cookies are a likely scapegoat.  You telling me that beer belly and rosacea came from cookies?  Please.  The guy is lit all the time.  I can’t really blame him…when you are around the same group of people for hundreds of years in the middle of a frozen wasteland, the booze will eventually come a callin’.

And how many times you think Santa gets blasted in the face by some reindeer gastro-pyrotechnics.  I mean, in all those years, it could be possible that Blitzen had a burrito night pre-flight, or maybe someone slipped the crew some Beef-a-Reeno.

Plenty of reasons to turn to the bottle, despite the light work schedule.  Speculation aside, though, let’s get down to the beer.  Pickled Santa is a Winter Warmer brewed by Ridgeway Brewing, out of the UK.  Ridgeway was created by Peter Scholey, who was the master brewer at the Brakspear Brewery when it was closed, after being in service since 1779.  The closing is a story for another time, but for now, Peter decided to continue his craft, and soon Ridgeway Brewing had opened it’s doors to begin churning out classic English style Ales.

The Winter Warmer style is defined on BeerAdvocate.com as “malty sweet offerings that tend to be a favorite winter seasonal.  Big malt presence, both in flavor and body.  The color ranges from brownish reds to nearly pitch black.  Hop bitterness is generally low, leveled and balanced, but hop character can be pronounced.  Alcohol warmth is not uncommon.  Many English versions contain no spices, though some brewers of spiced winter seasonal ales will slap “Winter Warmer” on the label.  Those that are spiced tend to follow the “wassail” tradition of blending robust ales with mixed spices, before hops became the chief “spice” in beer.  American varieties have a larger presence of hops, both in bitterness and flavor.”  The ABV generally ranges between 5.5%-8%.  Pickled Santa rocks in at an even 6%.

Poured from a bottle into a tumbler pint, the beer pours with a lot of foaming, but settles with a nice, bright, vibrant, copper-honey coloring, and a finished thin layer of foamy, light, off-white head that is barely an eighth of an inch.  Aromas of a light malt sweetness, a slight roasting, and some subtle spice blends that entice the drinker.  Very mild, but very well blended overall smells.  Flavors are more heavily roasted, with a toasty caramel malt backbone that allows the all-spice, nutmeg, and clove spicing to blossom at the end of the palate.  Good, subtle hopping to help balance the brew and clean the palate.  The beer is light bodied, with only a slight, inconsistent lacing on parts of the glass.  A little on the light/weak side for a winter warmer, at least for my preferences.  I tend to lean toward the darker, heavier brews for this style, as it seems more “wintery” to me.  The extra booze never hurts, either (I wouldn’t dream of lying to you).  The aftertaste is mostly spiced, with a slight sweetness that lingers behind.  The finish is light, and somewhat clean, but has a few lingering characteristics that hang on a bit too long.  Not a bad beer, but not something I would go out of my way for.  Would be an easy transition for someone new to the style, as it isn’t overpowering or imposing in nature.

The Holiday season is a great time for big beer lovers, as the styles tend to get heavier, the ABVs higher, and the flavor profiles more robust and profound.  Winter brews are not for the weak of heart, but as I previously said of this brew, with a little searching, you can find calmer waters to test before diving in with the big fish.  That being said, do not become complacent in the testing area, because the water here in the deep end is awfully nice, and we are extremely welcoming.  So, if you are new, take your time and enjoy your journey, and we will be waiting with a nice, dark Russian Imperial Stout for you when you are ready.  However, if you enjoy the beastly beers of the frosty season already, then I rejoice with you, my brothers and sisters!  Drink educated, my friends!

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