You do not need me to tell you that there are only 16 drinking days until Christmas, or alternatively only 16 days to hunt out those beers that only appear once a year for the festive season. Some are recognisable by their seasonal names, others by their seasonal tastes; some are good, some not so.
In the last few days around town these beers are starting to trickle in (not literally I may add!), and Scrooge's and Christmas lovers alike can take in their share. Thankfully, there are still beers with normal names to choose from as well, but if you are on the Christmas theme, here are a few to get you started.
The Cherry Tree provides Hook Norton '12 Days', a 5.5% dark offering along with Marstons 'Ugly Sisters' a 4.5% that has a little too much sweetness for my taste - Oh no it hasn't I hear you shout! - both typically seasonal. Out of town I have encountered, but not enjoyed, Oldershaw 'Yuletide' which is a dark red 5.2% brew and Phoenix 'Snowbound' a 4.3% beer that I did like. The Rat & Ratchet has had York 'Nippy Nights' on the bar - a bit of a shock when it turned out dark rather than the light beer I associate with the brewery.
The other town centre pubs do not seem to have really entered into the spirit of the season yet, that is until you reach the Star, where in the last week the drinkers have been supping Abbeydale 'Turkey Surprise' and 'White Christmas', both excellent beers from this very good brewery. Coach House 'Xmas Stocking' has made a reappearance for the season, along with Church End ' Reinbeer', and they have been backed up by Derventio 'Winter King', more seasonal than festive, but still very good from a brewery not often seen around these parts.
No doubt there will be plenty more to come, hopefully not many of those that taste like Christmas pudding in a glass or made with all the odd spices and flavours that brewers feel compelled to throw in at this time of year. It is time when the light hoppy beer fan does seem a little left out, but its only once a year so I cannot complain too much. All I hope for is the reappearance of my favourite name for a Christmas beer (cannot recall who brewed it though) 'It Looks Like Rain Dear', and the rebrewing of Pictish's excellent 'Rudolph's Rocket Fuel'. Suppose I will just have to wait and see what Santa brings me, just hope its pale and hoppy.