I know what you’re thinking. A review of a Holiday beer? Now? It’s nearly February! True. Guilty. Whatever.
I wish I could tell you that there was some mysterious cosmic reason behind this. That I some how tapped into the primal forces of the universe and found some arcane thread that connects this beer with this particular day. Some amazing association between the two that when it was all done would leave you with the feeling that, “Damn I wish my brain worked on a level that Ed’s did” (for the record be happy it doesn’t).
Or….I wish I could say it was done with some subversive purpose. That this was in some way a rebellious statement against continued seasonal creep done by the craft beer industry. You want to put out pumpkin beers in July? Holiday beers by the end of September? Fine, then I’m not going to review them until February!
But to be honest, this post is simply a matter of timing. The mundane result of the intersection of “when State Line had it on their shelves”, “when I finally walked into the store” and “when I finally got my lazy ass around to reviewing it” on the Venn diagram of beer blogging. So let’s get to it.
For the past 6 years, the California beer producers, The Bruery, have released one beer every year around the holidays in what they call their “Twelve Beers of Christmas” series. The last two years have seen 4 Calling Birds and 5 Golden Rings, both of which I’ve commented on as far as the beers themselves as well as some interestingly incorrect assumptions surrounding their names (by almost everyone, not just the brewery). This year however there isn’t anything I can comment on as far as the name 6 Geese-a-Laying. As far as the traditional song is concerned, the phrase is exactly as it says. So that leaves nothing to do but take a look at the beer. Let’s taste.
THEM: 6 Geese-a-Laying is Belgian-style dark ale with cape gooseberries added. As the name of implies, cape gooseberries are indigenous of African and come mainly from the region of the Cape of Good Hope. However, unlike their name implies, they are actually more closely related to tomatillos then the fruit most commonly known as the ribes genus of gooseberries. 6GAL is unfiltered, bottle conditioned and clocks in at 11.5% ABV.
ME: 6GAL brings all the characteristics you’d expect from a Belgian dark ale – first, it’s dark (how does he DO it!!). The nose has some malt and Belgian yeast with hints of fruitiness including plums and cherries. I wish I could say that it smells like cape gooseberries, but to be honest I would not know gooseberries from goose droppings. But I’m assuming a lot of the fruit/citrus I’m getting in the nose comes from them. The taste brings it all together, the front is surprisingly clean with gobs of fruit and malt (is that a hint of chocolate I’m getting?) popping up in the middle. The end has a nice sticky aftertaste with a touch of booze and a hint of tartness.
One off series beers like this can be a problem. Some breweries want to make such a statement with them that they forget that at the end of the day, it should be a good beer, and I think 6GAL is a pretty good beer. The addition of the gooseberries doesn’t take the beer so far away from the Belgian dark style that it makes you scream, “What the hell, Bruery!” If anything it adds a touch of complexity boosting up the fruit element a bit and filling out the otherwise already great flavors in the beer.
As always I put a bottle down to open after they release 12 Drummers Drumming.
Time for another beer…