Here’s what I thought of the 2016 version…
Well, we didn’t get off to a great start to be honest.
Gone are the lovely brightly coloured, individually wrapped bottles of last year. Replaced by a boring, generic 24 slot beer box with a sheet of paper over the top.
It hardly screams Christmas does it?
Oh well, never mind. It’s the contents that count…
Day 01: Hundelufter Bajer (5%) – Not the most interesting start but a solid session IPA.
Day 02: First Frontier (7.1%) – Text book U.S style IPA. Super fresh and the first time in a can.
Day 03: Kaffe og Røg (9%) – Now we’re talking! A sort of sweet, smoked coffee stout. Inspired by the ‘dimly lit and smoke filled coffee cafes of Copenhagen’, apparently. The best new To Øl beer I had for ages.
Day 04: Sur Yule (5.4%) – The first ‘festive’ beer. Though this one isn’t really in anything other than name (and colour, I guess). A lovely sour pale ale with tons of cherries.
Day 05: Cloud 3 Wit (2.8%) – Low ABV Belgian wit with mango and orange peel. I thought I was going to hate this but was surprised by just how much flavour they’d packed in. It was genuinely very tasty and refreshing. Probably better suited to a hot summers day though.
Day 06: Raid Beer (5.2%) – I don’t drink many pilsners but I’m always happy to have this. Perhaps because it’s so hoppy it doesn’t really taste like a pilsner? It’s packed with Simcoe, Citra, Nelson Sauvin, and Centennial giving big floral, fruit and bitter notes.
Day 07: Santa’s Hibernation (6%) – Another non-Christmassy beer with a Christmassy name. This one’s just a decent hoppy wheat beer.
Day 08: My Pils (4%) – Quite a dull pilsner by To Øl’s usual standards.
Day 09: Sur Amarillo (7.5%) – I love this range of single, dry-hopped sour pales.
Day 10: Black Ball (8%) – A very good roasty, hoppy imperial porter.
Day 11: Gose To Hollywood (3.8%) – Gently, refreshing gose. Enjoyable, but another more suited to sunnier months.
Day 12: My Sour Pils (4%) – A sour version of the aforementioned ‘My Pils’. I much prefer this version. Sour pils > not sour pils.
Day 13: ?! (6.2%) – Also known as ‘Say What?!’. A classic American IPA with simcoe, mosaic & citra.
Day 14: Brett & Butter (3.6%) – A mosaic dry hopped bretted table beer sounded great on paper. Unfortunately it was a bit of a let down. It needed far more hops and loads more brett.
Day 15: Mochaccino Messiah (7%) – A brown ale that is anything but boring. Packed with so much coffee, chocolate and lactose it tastes much closer to an actual mochaccino than a brown ale.
Day 16: Frost Bite (6%) – Very nice pale ale brewed with pine needles and orange zest. My kinda Christmas beer!
Day 17: Shock Series: @@@PA (13%) – A massive triple IPA. Basically a super hopped up barley wine.
Day 18: Don’t Gose Towards The Light (3.5%) – Tart & fruity blackcurrant dark Gose with a nice touch of salt.
Day 19: Totem Pale (2.2%) – Low abv gluten free pale. Pretty low flavour too. I guess if you can only drink GF beers you might appreciate it more. Maybe.
Day 20: Tripel Trouble (7%) – Solid Belgian style Tripel. Honey sweetness and Belgian-y yeast.
Day 21: Sur Galaxy (7%) – I’d had this beer a few times, including two days previously. Not a problem as I love it. It really surprised me the first time I had it since the rest of the ‘Sur’ series are straight up sour pales. This is basically a sour black IPA! Rich and roasty with loads of hops and then a sour finish. Really odd but equally enjoyable.
Day 22: Black Bauble (8%) – The closest we came to an imperial stout! An imperial porter subtly spiced with cardamom and orange. Great body and flavours very well balanced. You could still taste the hops/malt, unlike many overpowering ‘Christmas’ beers.
Day 23: Santa Gose F&*% It All (4%) – Pleasant tropical fruit Gose, big guava, mango and passion fruit flavours. Again not even remotely festive in anything but name.
Day 24: Snowball Saison (8%) – I like this beer but was fairly underwhelmed for Christmas Eve. It’s a nice saison but despite the name isn’t very (any) Christmassy. Black Bauble would’ve been a better finisher. Or you know, one of their many imperial stouts! Not least Jule Maelk.
Despite enjoying most of the beers I couldn’t help be a bit disappointed with this calendar. At least compared to last years.
It cost exactly the same but I’m certain the actual value of the beers is less (though I haven’t added it up). I got the feeling that was going to be the case the moment I saw the box. It was obvious it couldn’t contain any bottles above 330ml.
I complained last year that there were too many pilsners included. And to be fair, this year did have a much more varied range of styles.
But for me there were too many low ABV beers. And absolutely not enough dark beers, particularly stouts. By not enough I mean literally none. In 2015 we’d already had 12.2% Liquid Confidential by Day 05. It was followed by Liquid Confidence (12.3%), Jule Maelk (15%) and Goliat (10.1%).
This time I spent every weekend expecting one to arrive, but no. The closest we got were the hoppy porters: Black Ball and Black Bauble. And a couple of chocolatey, coffee infused brown ales.
Similarly, last year ended with a 750ml bottle of Shameless Santa, a 10% Belgian quad. The 7% Snowball Saison this Christmas Eve paled in comparison.
Overall, it was still a decent range of beers. Had I not had one previously I might have been happier with it – though I’m sure I’d still have missed the stouts.
But the fact is it just wasn’t as good as 2015. Bah humbug.Follow @BeerGeekBlog Follow @FoodGeekUK