21st Amendment Brewery
San Francisco, CA
Fireside Chat Winter Spiced Ale
I’m sure I don’t need to reiterate my love for all things pumpkin beers – a quick glance through my archives does that well enough – but there comes a point in the season where either by sheer overload of pumpkin beers or desire for something new, my cravings for them wane.
But those cravings are quickly replaced by a love for spiced beers and winter warmers. Like pumpkin beers, they perfectly fit the hearty, spicy flavors that permeate everything else in the winter season.
21st Amendment makes one of my more preferable spiced beers, Fireside Chat. It’s an English-style brown brewed with a helping of spices and cocoa nibs to help balance everything out, giving it a smooth and subtly bitting nose and flavor. And at just south of 8%, it’s aimed at keeping your insides warm.
Plus, it’s got good ol’ FDR on the can, and you can’t not like that.
The pour is a very, very deep brown verging almost on a black, but there’s a little light getting through in areas, giving it an amberish tint in spots. There were about two fingers of head on top that linger for a while and leave a nice film along the sides of the glass. Both the lacing and the alcohol legs are mild at best.
The nose has a great mix of sweet dark fruit notes and spice. There’s a really big toffee note and a lot of raisins with a slight toasted caramel, raspberry and a cocoa sweetness on the back. As far as spices go, I get a little cinnamon and nutmeg. It’s really rich and delicious.
There’s a good bite of spice on the front of the tongue followed by a medium body mouthfeel with some mild carbonation across the palate. Toward the middle are these really big flavors of caramel, cocoa and plums that give it a very rich and robust flavor. Those sweeter toffee and raisin notes are strong on the finish, topped off with a bit of a dryness from the cocoa. The spices are a bit subdued, but again, those cinnamon and nutmeg notes are pretty prevalent.
With Fireside Chat being an “early winter seasonal” – sold October through December – it’s not as strong and spicy as other winter warmers, but instead is leveled with a great, rich sweetness that nicely compliments the spices.