After a two month hiatus, I’m back with the beer of the month! For its triumphant return in November, I wanted to go with something seasonal, and since I have not given a shout out to the local breweries near my new home in upstate South Carolina, I wanted to go local if possible.
Well, just in the nick of time, I was able to meet the folks at RJ Rockers in Spartanburg on Monday, and they hooked me up with a sneak peak of their new winter seasonal, The First Snow Ale. I tried it Tuesday, but you won’t even be able to find this in stores until Wednesday or later. (Man, I love the perks of being a beer writer, even if I don’t get paid for it. (yet…))
The First Snow is an exceptionally smooth and balanced winter spiced ale. I actually have a little challenge going with the brewmaster, Mark. I challenged myself to guess the five spices used in the beer. So, here is my guess: cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, clove, and ginger. I’ll post a comment to follow up with how I scored. My entire reputation as a beer reviewer is at stake with getting this right. I’m a little nervous. (I was also let in on a little secret, but it isn’t really a secret. They also used an ass-load of honey, but my tastes aren’t tuned enough to pick that out on my own.)
Right off the bat, you notice a subtle hint of your favorite traditional winter spices in the aroma, which I’m guessing are the five listed above. It has a medium body without a lot of sweetness, but the spice is definitely apparent in the flavor. It finishes slightly bitter, not too sweet.
I’m generally not huge on flavored beers because they tend to be overly sweet and the flavor often detracts from the “beer” characteristics. However, this winter seasonal provides that spiced aroma and flavor without going over the top. You can still enjoy this as a beer and get that cozy winter feeling at the same time. Since it has that slightly bitter finish, I feel like I could easily drink a few of these in a sitting without destroying my palate.