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Bell's Christmas Ale Scotch Ale

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Another Bell's beer. I like them, and I like the fact that I didn't have to pay for it (thanks again to my brother). No, it doesn't normally come with the Rudolph-style nose, eyes, and antlers, but it comes with the usual beer in it all the same, so my review shouldn't be swayed by the cuteness of the bottle.

With a dropper of deep brown added to an amber color for the body, the head is eventually pretty much nothing but the thin skin of bubbles floating on top. More important is the spices and heavy malt that hit me as soon as I started to pour this sucker. So, this is a spicy Christmas beer, and that's fine by me.

First sip has a lot more raisin than I expected. This really tastes more like a Belgian Ale than a Scotch Ale. I'm not sure I taste any Scotch beyond a vague impression of wood somewhere in the background of the plum-raisin that is infused with the ginger and other spices.

Tip-in is dark carbonation burn with the raisin and plum mixing with caramel …

Breckenridge Christmas Ale

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As I write this, it is cold outside. It is very cold, so a winter ale (or Christmas ale) should hit the spot just right. This is the latest in my series of reindeer-themed pack from my brother who is in or about Cincinnati and gifted me with a bunch of beers from the area. Even though this is a "Fine Colorado Ale," it is from the... big turnip? Rust City? I don't know it's nickname.

The slightly murky beer is a dark brown with red highlights. The stalwart head is leaving a good amount of lacing as it goes down to a fluffy little pillow that looks all sloshed to one side of the glass, but there's enough of this... slanket? to spread around the rest of the top. The aroma is heavy malt and those traditional winter spices.

First sip follows the nose almost exactly, but it is a lot more gentle than expected. So, we have the sweet malt with its toasted caramel and the spices like ginger and cinnamon all nestled in there like they were waiting by the fire on a winter ni…

Tröegs Mad Elf

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My brother, who gifted me this bottle, used to live in the area of Hershey, PA where this beer is brewed. He said that he and friends used to go to a bar that had this beer available and get a bit tipsy after just a few beers (after all, 11% ABV is nothing to be sneezed at) and referred to it as "Getting Elfed." Well, I only have one of these to try, but I have a glass that matches it (thanks to the House of 1,000 Beers).

The deep brown-amber beer is relatively clear for a Belgian Ale, which is to say that light doesn't pass through it, but there don't seem to be chunks of anything floating around. The head dissipates very quickly, and nothing remains but a few scant bubbles clinging to the sides of the ornate glass. The aroma is raisins and plums, but cherries are taking over things.

First sip is a bite from Belgium by way of Pennsylvania. It has those cherries out front with their slight sourness and then the earthy goodness of the plums and raisins are backing it …

Thirsty Dog 12 Dogs of Christmas Ale

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Anyone following my blog will recognize the peculiar and humorous way my brother makes the bottles from my Christmas Present beer that he has furnished me with in the past, and I certainly hope this becomes an annual tradition. This particular beer comes from Akron, OH, just a stone's throw away from his home and the home of the Steelers (go Steelers!)

The brown-tinted amber beer has a thin head that leaves nothing but a dusting across the top and will almost assuredly not leave any lacing. The aroma is honey malt and Christmas spices. It's definitely a winter ale (and I'm drinking this within a few days of Christmas, even though you may read this much later).

First sip is ginger and cinnamon riding on top of a caramel and honey malt. The taste is purely Christmas, and I am thinking they hit this sucker right on the head (not that they hit 12 dogs on the head - that would be cruel and unnecessary for the brewing of the beverage).

Tip-in is noticeable carbonation burn that …

Tennessee Brew Works Tripel Star

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Small breweries are popping up around Nashville like zits on a teenager - we're maggotty with these things. I couldn't be happier about it, either. I wonder how many small breweries actually make it long term, and I suspect it is a lot like the other small business percentages, but I suspect the best will be able to keep it rolling (unlike Hot Chicks, Nashville, that had some of the best hot chicken ever, and I just found out they closed).

The haze in the orange-amber beer is generated by tiny little bits of stuff (I'm guessing hops) that is suspended in the beer. I comment only because, normally, hazy beers have bits that are so fine that they create the haze without giving the impression of floating flotsam. This one, however, has comparable chunks. The stark white head boils away to absolutely nothing - NOTHING! The aroma is a very light, funky yeast and maybe a bit of citrus.

First sip is a very nice yeast (with very little funk, but it's there) with the bright cit…

Tailgate Dino Breath IPA

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What the hell is up with this label? It's got some long bearded hipster waving his thumb and pinky while riding a dinosaur that is puking a rainbow into a cup. Is this what the brewer looks like? Is this what breath is supposed to look like? I don't know, I'm just here to drink beer.

The beer is a hazy deep amber, and I didn't have to coax out quite as much head as I did with the last tailgate beer that I had. This beer is very different to the nose; it has a deep resin that seems to alter the citrus effects of the hops. Instead of grapefruit, I'm hit with a lot more pineapple and other tropical fruits. It's not off-putting, but it's a lot different than its stablemate.

First sip is very smooth. I  didn't expect that from an IPA, but that's what I got in the sip. The pineapple makes it very crisp while at the same time the malt seems to have smoothed it out quite a bit. It seems very tart at first, but everything seems to sweeten by the end. But let…

Hoppin' Frog Barrel Aged B.O.R.I.S. Oatmeal-Imperial Stout

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This is the whiskey barrel aged version of a beer that I tried and didn't really like. A while ago, I would have told you that tasting this beer was a waste of time, as my only experience with barrel aged beer was on the Innis & Gunn beers that I just didn't like. I have, however, found ones that impressed me, so I'm trying this out.

The pitch black beer has a brown head, but not much of it. From my experience with these bourbon (and in this case, whiskey) barrel-aged beers, they don't usually have a big head, and they almost always have this kind of syrupy thickness to the drink; pouring it is a bit mesmerizing. The aroma is chocolate, oak, vanilla, and booze.

First sip is pretty stout. I don't mean that it's a stout, it is obviously a stout, but this is a thick slab of taste and texture sitting in a glass pretending to just be another drink. It has the thick, syrupy texture that I saw in the pour, but it is more than just that when you combine it with the…