Hub Abominable Winter Ale

Another precious hand-delivered gift from the West Coast from my brother. The other two were an excellent stout and a curious cherry cider. This one is a big, hairy west coast seasonal ale with four kinds of hops and six malts. Does that mean that it will be a mix of good stuff that should never have been slapped together like the ill-fated Latitude 48 IPA? No, but it means they need to be careful.

The beer is a lot darker than I expected. It's a nice dark copper with a white, frothy head that sticks to the sides better than a Corvette sticks to pavement. So, the lacing is copious and delightful. The aroma is light citrus hops and the malt is very noticeable with grains and caramel. The hops are overwhelming the malt in the smell, but I've been surprised at the difference between the aroma and the taste in the past.

First sip is actually pretty delightful. It manages to have the hoppiness with a touch of bitterness up front and a sweet trail off. When the label says that they tried to create a smooth balance, they may have undersold themselves. It's a very nice beer, and the balance is interesting in that it comes in waves, from bitter to sweet, so it's balanced overall, but not in each section. I wonder what it means to the swig...

Tip-in is a bit hoppy, with carbonation tickling the entire mouth. The malt is nestled in the bed of citrus hops. As the middle approaches, the whole thing smooths out and the malt and hops dance the sweet dance of beer while - inexplicably - a smile curls the corners of my mouth. The finish is a bit less dignified, as the bitterness of the hops comes out with little of the malt left to try to cover it.

Bottom Line: A very very good beer that is disappointing mostly because it's only available during some seasons and not all seasons.



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