HaandBryggeriet Nissefar “Father Christmas” Holiday Ale

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Following my experience with their very surprising Dobbel Dram Imperial IPA, I was excited to see a Christmas ale from HaandBryggeriet on the shelf.  

Pours a dark coffee color with a head that dissipates fairly quickly leaving just a film on the top of the glass.  I got mostly a coffee smell wafting up from the glass.  I was expecting more pronounced flavors in this beer as the Christmas ales tend not to be very subtle, but this one is.  A little research online informs me it’s also classified as an Old Ale (aka a Stock Ale).  It’s a bit Porter-ish I’d say.  I’m also not enough of an ale expert to split those hairs though.  I’m going to tag it as every one of those and let you, the readers, decide which you agree with.  We like to cover the bases here at CBS.

I get coffee notes with some plums or dates buried DEEP in the background as well as a bit of smokiness with a slightly astringent finish.  Carbonation is very light, and it’s a medium-bodied beer.  Nothing crazy about this one, and I’m not sure I’d get it again.  Not because it was bad, but because it was simply not enough of anything.  

Frankly, the label’s the best part of this beer, in my opinion.  I love what they’re doing from a graphic design standpoint, and there’s always a nice accompanying story for their beers.  Speaking of which, I think I’m going to try a new category tonight…

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Taste:  B  It was certainly above what I’ve seen some of the so-so craft breweries produce (I don’t want to name names here, but you can probably come up with your own list.  Apple beer anyone?).  Maybe it’s simply too subtle.  I’d really love a second or third opinion on this beer.  In fact, I’m challenging our loyal readers and the CBS crew themselves to find this one and see what you think.  Have I sold it short?

Drinkability:  B+  It’s not sweet, heavy, or carbonated enough to put you off a second.  The question is, will you discover enough flavors there to make you want to try another glass?  

Label:  A  Great illustration evoking Norwegian mythology, a nice description on the back of the name, lots of info about the beer and even the batch.  I wish all labels were this interesting and informative.  Aces.

Vitals:  Poured from the bottle into my brand new CBS pint glass (thank you, Shannon!) at about 48F.  7.00% ABV.  Batch 385, total bottles produced: 1080.

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