Two good beers from the same brewery (or should I say, from the same Bruery?). Both are recommended.
5 Golden Rings: The Bruery, Placentia, California. 11.5% ABV. The Bruery releases a different holiday ale each year. Each year the annual offering is named after a successive verse in the famous Christmas song, “The 12 Days of Christmas”. This being the fifth year they have released a holiday beer, it’s called 5 Golden Rings (yes, the first year it was Partridge in a Pear Tree, the second year it was 2 Turtle Doves, etc.). I never got to sample Partridge in a Pear Tree, but have had all of the others. In fact, I still have a bottle of 4 Calling Birds in the fridge.
5 Golden Rings pours a hazy golden/yellow (it’s a Belgian style golden ale). It is quite highly carbonated (that’s to be expected with a bottle conditioned Belgian). I had to wait several minutes for the foam to subside in order to fill my glass (I was in the mountains at 5000′ elevation and poured into a chilled/frozen pint glass; these two factors probably contributed to the excessive foaming). The aroma has that signature Belgian yeast smell, which is sweet, but there’s more to it than that. This is brewed with pineapple juice, making the aroma sweeter than a typical Belgian.
The flavor is sweet, just like the aroma, but it’s more than just Belgian sweetness. The pineapple juice is quite evident in the taste. It’s sweet, but there is a certain amount of acidic tartness as well. The spices used in the brew add to the complexity of the beer, but I can’t really pick them out (nutmeg and cinnamon are used, but I don’t know what else). Alcohol is high, but not noticeable in the taste.
I’m not one to really enjoy Belgian ales, but the pineapple changes the signature Belgian golden ale flavor profile. This is a good beer, although not my favorite. I may buy one more bottle ($9.99 for 750 ML bottle) to drink in the next few months, but then again, at that price I may not. Like I said, it’s good beer, but very unusual. At 11.5% ABV, 750 ML’s can get you where you want to go in a hurry. I recommend this to anyone who has an interest in tasting a very unusual brew.
Smoking Wood: The Bruery, Placentia, Califorina. 10% ABV. This is a “Smoked Imperial Rye Porter Aged in Rye Whiskey Barrels”
I tasted this beer on 12-01-2012 while on a weekend getaway in the local mountains. The 750 ML bottle cost $17.99 at Total Wine. It’s not the first time I’ve had Smoking Wood (I first tasted it in January 2012 in the tasting room at The Bruery).
This porter pours black with a creamy, cocoa brown head. The aroma is vanilla (from the whiskey barrel aging). The initial flavor is chocolate with some bitterness (not hops; dark grain and carbonation) . There is some nice carbonation sensation on the tongue. The chocolate is then joined by coffee and a slight smokiness. The taste fades to a little extra smoke, then the whiskey barrel flavor boldly takes over. The lingering aftertaste is mild smoke. Let this warm up when consuming it. The whiskey really comes out. The chocolate/coffee mellows as it warms and the vanilla (whiskey/oak) really takes over.
If you’re a fan of bourbon/whiskey/oak aged beers, this is the one for you. I can’t recommend it enough, even though it’s expensive**. Although this is not a seasonal brew (according to their website), it’s in their Special Collection, and not always available, so if you are interested, you might want to think about purchasing it in the next few weeks. I think Smoking Wood is released in October or November only. It’s almost Christmas, so go ahead – get this beer and treat yourself. It’s wonderful. **As they say at Stone Brewing, “It’s not too expensive, you’re too cheap!”
God bless, and enjoy Christmas and the holiday season. Cheers.