It might still be hot outside, but the retail stores are getting ready for the holidays. Just this weekend I was waking through the mall and I saw Halloween decorations in nearly every store I went in and some even started putting up Christmas decorations. It is too soon for me to be thinking about winter.
Unless, of course, you are talking about winter beers. Brewers are also talking about the upcoming holiday season and that is fine by me. I love the winter beers. From an ice cold lager to a harsh cider, winter is the best time to be a beer drinker. So when I stopped in the liquor store and saw a bottle of Samuel Smith’s Winter Welcome Ale I decided I might as well welcome winter with them. I grabbed a bottle and figured it was also a great time to start a new series on my blog.
I have been drinking beer for quite a while. From the moment I turned twenty-one years old I was excited to see what all you adults had been hiding from me for so many years. I tried anything I could get my hands on too. I grabbed a Coors Light, a Red Dog, even sucked back a few High Life’s before I realized that all this stuff tasted the same. It was good, don’t get me wrong, but I was twenty-one, I didn’t care what I was drinking.
But the older I get the more I appreciate not only the taste of these beers, but also the process it takes to make them. Sheryl and I have started brewing our own beer. As a matter of fact we are planning on bottling our first batch later this week. But while we sit at home and try to figure out how to make it, we also joined a beer club sponsored by Union Jack Pub in Broad Ripple, Indiana. That is another blog post all its own.
So while I am trying to learn how to make this stuff, I am drinking all sorts of different beers to see what all is out there. I aptly call it research. But one thing is missing here. I am not writing about these beers I am drinking. I had been in talks with the nice folks over at Vine and Table for some marketing with their beer selection, but for whatever reason that fell through. So I figured I might do something with this Passport Beer Club at Union Jack. That has fallen through as well. We are still drinking, but my concept for a blog series didn’t go much further than the first couple of beers.
So I decided why not just write when I can on the beers I want to write about when I drink them at home? Or perhaps when I am at a bar drinking with buddies I can take some notes on my iPhone and just write the blog later. Whatever the case may be, I need to be writing about these beers that I am drinking. It is just one more topic for me to write on and one more way for me to share things I love with my readers. So from here on out, look for some more blog posts about the beers I drink.
Let’s just get started with the Samuel Smith’s Winter Welcome Ale. This beer comes in a 550 ML bottle and is quite affordable considering it is a seasonal brew. Also considering this stuff comes from across the pond. This, among others, is produced out of the Samuel Smith’s Old Brewery located in Tadcaster, North Yorkshire, England. The Old Brewery at Tadcaster was actually founded way back in1758 and is Yorkshire’s oldest brewery. Samuel Smith is one of the few remaining independent breweries in England, and also is the last to utilize the classic Yorkshire Square system of fermentation solely in stone squares. This is just one of the many things that makes this such a unique brewing company. Their longevity alone tells me this is going to be a good beer.
The rich Samuel Smith strain of yeast at The Old Brewery dates from the early 1900s. Hops are hand-weighed by the master hop blender, and the brewing water is drawn from a well sunk over 200 years ago. And after having been through my first brewing class, stuff like that is starting to make sense. I was told to treat brewing beer as an art, more closely related to cooking and preparing a good meal. If you treat the beer with respect, it will treat you with the same.
This beer I have in my hand was first introduced to the U.S. market in 1978 by Merchant du Vin. Since then, Samuel Smith beers quickly became the benchmark ales for the emerging craft beer movement. To this day, they remain among the most awarded. But again I will note the price point. I got a bottle of this stuff for under $4.00.
Another cool thing about this beer, better yet about this line of beers, is that all Samuel Smith beers are vegan products, registered with The Vegan Society. You can’t get very many domestic beers that follow such a strenuous protocol to being put into bottles. It makes you almost feel good drinking it.
Filling Up the Glass
The pour is quite light on this beer. It almost pours like a domestic lager of sorts. It even sounds thin and weak from the bottle. But once it hits the glass it is rich in color and produced an almost copper color that is nearly impossible to see through. It reminds me of a new penny when I look through the side of the glass. The head is also quite weak dissipating in a matter of seconds.
Put Your Nose In It
The nose is a roller coaster of aroma. First you are it with a malty nose that leaves your palate quite quickly. But it has a certain mystique to it and it just keeps your nose-diving back into the beer for another sniff. But as thin as this came out of the bottle it is equally as thin once you get a real big sniff of the beer. Again, the head is gone by the time you dig our nose into it, but the carbonation keeps on going. It sits in the glass like a soda pop.
What Does She Taste Like?
Remember how I told you it smells like a soda pop? Well, it drinks like one too. You see how tin it is coming out of the bottle, and then you see all the carbonation it products during your smelling process. When you finally raise the glass and take a sip, it hits your tongue with a tidal wave of bubbles. There are some beers that this is acceptable, but not this one. I want this, especially being called a winter beer, to be thick, almost creamy, and smooth. But the thing I like most about this beer is the after taste.
After your first sip, you sit the glass back down thinking the aftertaste was just meager and cheap. But it’s not. It sticks around for a while. And your mouth is hit with a warm, almost salty flavor for a good three to five minutes. It is not uncommon for European beers to have a longer lasting aftertaste, either. Most beers overseas have more care put into their individual ingredients and are meant to be paired with food before chugged on a Friday night.
The beer is good, but not something I would order in a restaurant or a nightclub. It’s affordable, and has slightly higher alcohol content bringing the ABV to 6%. But the soda pop tendencies are going to make you reach for a new bottle of beer before you grab for another bottle of this stuff. As we get closer to the winter months I will talk more about winter beers and how they all compare to this one.
Facts about the Brew
Beer Name: Samuel Smith’s Winter Welcome Ale
Brewery: Samuel Smith’s Old Brewery
Location: North Yorkshire, England
Alcohol By Volume: 6%