As the holiday season began to wind down, I still had a single remaining Christmas ale in the fridge. Eager to end the year on a high note, I broke it out with a couple of fellow Perfectly Happy Men on New Year’s Eve. I had previously sampled Hoppin’ Frog’s Pumpkin Ale and was awed by its balance of spices, pumpkin and beer. My hopes were high for this one as well, although “Christmas Ale” didn’t give me much of a hint as to what I was getting into.
First off, the color was a surprise, a pure burgundy with a bright Christmas red around the edges where the light shone through the glass. There was no head to the Frosted Frog, which poured beautifully into one of my Christmas gifts, a new set of snifter glasses. While the burgundy was of interest, causing me to wonder what types of flavors might be lingering in the glass, even more intriguing was the incredible cinnamon scent. It was like walking through the mall, turning the corner and running straight into a Cinnabon. The smell was incredible, palpable and sweet. The cinnamon was definitely the predominant scent, perhaps a bit of nutmeg, pine and a few other spices sprinkled in. Upon the first sip, the cinnamon was the initial flavor as well, but it soon faded into a syrupy sweetness that was a bit too much. Even as a sipper, the alcohol seemed too thick and the initial flavors, sweet and seasonal, disappeared too quickly. It felt more like a Christmas punch, heavy on the liquor and light on the punch.