It’s the most wonderful time of the year! There’s much mistltoeing and hearts glowing, and of course, kids jingle belling and everyone telling you “be of good cheer.” But more than that, it’s time for holiday beers! In an effort to make sure you have as few sober moments with your family and friends, I figured it would be swell of me to review a holiday beer. What makes a holiday beer? It means whatever the brewer damn well pleases (so long as it’s released during the holiday season). That brings me to this week’s beer, Lagunitas Sucks Holiday Ale.
Do they really?
Yes, you read that right, “Lagunitas Sucks.” That’s the name of the beer (replace “Lagunitas” with “Jace” for the phrase most repeated by my high school football coach). Lagunitas has taken a savvy approach to the name of this beer. Much as when I was a fat youth (as opposed to an intermittently fat adult) and used to make fun of my own bowl-full-of jelly physique, Lagunitas has beaten their detractors to the punch here. One might assume they are referring to the reaction to the quality of the beer, but that assumer would be wrong (which is why we don’t assume).
The name refers to the fact that this is not Lagunitas’ typical holiday brew. Normally, they release their wildly popular Brown Shugga. This year, given capacity issues, there won’t be any Brown Shugga. Figuring their fan base might be a tad mad at that fact, they echo their potential sentiments, and we’re given this crappy beer with its odd moniker in place. I’m kidding. It’s actually pretty damn good!
[quote align=right]Confounding as it is, this beer is not an easy beer to describe. It’s a “cereal medley” of barley, rye, wheat, and oats. Call it the Village People of beers. It’s got a little bit of everything, and it’s a symphony of good, each note contributing its own flare.
Pouring it into my Frosty the Snowman tumbler (not really, but how cool would that be?), I am greeted by a fluffy, beautiful head. The use of wheat is evident here, as the head holds firm. The glass glows as gold as golden tinsel. Looks alone suggest this is a different beer than Brown Shugga, but damned if it isn’t a pretty one.
Time to dip my red nose (I’ve been drinking) into the fray. Oh my. Super aromatic. They say ‘tis “joyously dry-hopped.” Dry-hopped, this is; overjoyed by that, I am. Not overly resinous, a potent hoppiness rushes forth with a complex blend of fruits. And, there’s the rye, as a wisp of spiciness comes across.
[quote2]A sip, and I am hit with a menagerie of flavors. Fruitcake comes to mind. Not the fruitcake so frequently gifted in clichéd 80’s TV shows, but rather a delightful, modern one for the beer drinker. Pineapple, melon, apricot and grapefruit meet the spicy rye note on a firm but moist malt body. Lacing is beautiful here, and this is one hoppy beer. However, therein lies the loveliness that is the oats. Oats give beer a slightly oily, silky character. That element really takes this beer from hoppy, bitter and spicy to smooth and refined, with no one flavor overtaking the whole. This is a family that really gets along during the holidays.
The finish is a bit more dramatic. I sense a slightly boozy character, along with a sweet finish. Not drying on the palate, still, expect to have a pleasant fruity hop after taste.
At 7.85% this makes for a perfect drink this time of year. A higher than “session-able” ABV level, sure, but not super high, and definitely something you can enjoy several of as you pretend to listen to your uncle’s stories of his trip to Nova Scotia.
Not sure what to call this. A holiday IPA? Uh, sure … whatever floats your boat. I call it delicious. Lagunitas may suck, but I’ll be sucking down quite a few of these over the next month.