Southern Tier Brewing Co.
2XMAS Double Spiced Ale
As far back as I can remember, Southern Tier has been one of my favorite breweries. Their year-round beers have never been all that great – aside from the IPA, 2XIPA and 2XSTOUT – but their Blackwater Series is phenomenal and their seasonals, including longtime favorite Pumking, are ones I always look forward to enjoying again.
The newest seasonal from STBC is 2XMAS, a “double spiced ale” brewed in the vein of Glogg, a Swedish drink made with red wine, spices and raisins. The 8% spiced beer uses many of those same ingredients – cardamom, cinnamon, clove and ginger – as well as orange peel and figs. The result is a spicy, sweet and warming beer, and easily one of the best-smelling beers I’ve come across.
The color is a deep ruby with spots of amber and dark brown, and an almost purplish tint in places. It’s pretty deep in color but there was a little light coming through. There was a finger of a slightly off-white head that didn’t last long. Lacing is watery and really weak, but some alcohol legs do cling.
The nose on the 2XMAS is pretty incredible. When people say it smells like Christmas, they’re not kidding. The first thing that hits you are the spices, which are incredibly rich. There’s a ton of cinnamon, ginger and clove in it. There’s also the pungent orange peel smell permeating everything else. Imagine a spice cake, or one of those oranges with cloves stuck around them and that’s exactly what you get. It’s all rounded out with the richness of the figs. It’s syrupy sweet with hints of plums and caramel. It’s certainly one of the most aromatic beers I’ve smelled and is well suited for the season.
On the front of the tongue is just a touch of a hop bite. There’s just a little carbonation and it’s very smooth across the palate. The spices really take over in the middle of the palate, and they’re quite biting. There’s the pinch of the ginger and a dryness from the cinnamon, along with the citrusy bite from the orange. But as with the nose, it’s balanced out really well with the sweetness of the figs. That syrupy sweetness melts into the back of the taste. The finish is surprisingly dry, I’m guessing from the cinnamon. The taste is just as rich and rounded as the nose.
Southern Tier excels in making flavorful and aromatic beers. Choklat, Creme Brulee and the other Blackwater beers can be a bit much on their own, but they’re all absolutely delicious (in my opinion). Same goes for 2XMAS. It’s full of flavor and aroma, yet still really drinkable and something I think embodies the season.