December Beer Blog

  • November has been a pretty rough month. I'm an engineering student in their final year of university, and so I have been absolutely swamped with assignments, labs, and projects. Stress levels are high, we're all exhausted, and so my friends and I were looking for a way to bring a little joy into our lives, and make these last few weeks of term and final exams survivable.

    Our solution? Beer Advent Calendars!

    You can buy these premade in store, but we didn't think that'd be much fun, so we grabbed 24 beer loving friends, each bought 24 of beer, wrapped them so they'd be a surprise, labeled them with a number 1-24, and exchanged them so everyone had one of each. The exchange itself was such a jolly time! We had 576 beers in one house (plus the ones we were drinking) and the final result looked like this:

    So why am I talking about this here? I seriously love beer, and I try as many types as I can get my hands on, but I've never tried tasting and writing about about beer critically. As I have a beer a day until Christmas I think this is a fun opportunity to write about each beer I try.

    I'd love for this to be a conversation as much as possible, so if any of you have tried the beers I try, let me know what you think! Do any of you have any tips for tasting/reviewing beer? I'd love to hear them!

    I'll be seeing you all tomorrow with beer No.1! Cheers!

    Table of Contents:
    Day One - Sleeman Honey Brown Lager
    Day Two - Guinness Draught
    Day Three - St-Ambroise Oatmeal Stout
    Day Four - New Castle Brown Ale
    Day Five - Bud Light Lime
    Day Six - Sleeman Cream Ale
    Day Seven - Midnight Sun Espresso Stout
    Day Eight - Flying Monkeys Hoptical Illusion
    Day Nine - Molson Canadian
    Day Ten - Kronenbourg 1664 Blanc
    Day Eleven - Maple Shack Cream Ale
    Day Twelve - Chestnut Ale
    Day Thirteen - Red Stripe
    Day Fourteen - Deadman Creek Cranberry Wheat Ale
    Day Fifteen - WinterGlow Madarin IPA
    Day Sixteen - Citradelic IPA
    Day Seventeen - Grasshopper
    Day Eighteen - Coors "Banquet"
    Day Nineteen - Miller Genuine Draft
    Day Twenty - Lions Winter Ale
    Day Twenty-One - Péché Mortel
    Day Twenty-Two - Traditional Ale

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  • Global Moderator

    Awesome! I have always been a lot of a beer man. The problem with my friends etc are that people around me think "beer is just beer, enough to get drunk". I on the other hand like the variations and actually try beers and find unique patterns in the flavours. I will keep an eye on your calender and I hope you get some really cool ones! I am mainly a lager person myself, but I do like some proper ale as well!

  • This is a cool topic. I'll have to keep checking in to see what you're sampling. I enjoy pretty much all types, but I'd say that India Pale Ales are my favorite. The bitterness from their strong hop profile is just so flavorful and wonderful. I enjoy/recommend Dogfish Head's IPAs.

  • Loving this topic and I'll try to join in when I can!

  • @Billy I've definitely seen a lot of Dogfish Head IPAs but I can't recall if I've ever had one. I'm not a huge IPA person - it's taken me a long time and a lot of IPAs for hops to become bearable to me - but I think I'm capable of appreciating a well-made IPA, and every once in a while I crave one, so I'll definitely keep Dogfish Head in mind!

    I guess a brief personal beer history may be useful. I live in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, which probably doesn't have the greatest beer selection ever. Regardless, I've been drinking craft beer since I've turned of age 4 years ago and have tried well over 100 beers since. I tend towards stouts and porters, but I'm into basically any style. My favourite beer is Fuller's London Porter, and my go-to at any pub is Big Rock's Traditional Ale.

    I happen to already know all of the beers that are in the calendar (I made sure that no one brought the same beer as anyone else), but I'll keep it a surprise for you all, and I basically forget the order they're coming in myself. I've definitely got some of those "a beer is a beer" friends involved in this calendar, so there will be a few macro-brews that I'm sure I'll have a fun time 'reviewing'. I'm also excited to see how those friends react to some of the craft beers that they'll be getting. They may be gaining a new appreciation for beer. Or maybe not; who knows?

    I'm super surprised and excited by all of the positivity surrounding this thread already! Thanks everyone for getting into this, and I can't wait to start this tomorrow!

  • Day One

    Sleeman Honey Brown Lager
    Sleeman Breweries | Guelph, Ontario
    American Amber Lager | 5.2% ABV

    First off, a very high caliber wrapping job for day one. I've had Sleeman Honey Brown Lager a few times, but have never seeked it out and would take countless other beers over it. Regardless I've always thought of it as fine, and am excited to try it critically. So let's see how this goes.

    A nice clear copper appearance. About a half inch of head off the poor which mostly dissipated over 30 seconds. Not a bad looking beer at all.
    Pretty faint aroma. Somewhat metallic scent despite coming from a bottle. Small hints of honey make their way through the metal.
    Thankfully there is metallic taste. Instead the beer tastes of bread, honey, and toffee. Almost no hop taste to speak of; just a little bit of spice. The flavour is subdued but certainly there. A little towards the sweet side, but not overly so. Very pleasant overall.
    The mouthfeel would be creamy if it weren't for slightly excessive carbonation for my taste.
    The beer finishes rather short and sweet.

    Overall this is a pretty well made beer. There was nothing offensive about it, however I would appreciate a stronger, bolder taste - perhaps some more hops; citrus or more spice could do amazing things for the balance. Again, it was a little too carbonated for me, but overall I enjoyed it and would never turn one down.


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  • Day Two

    Guinness Draught
    Guinness | Dublin, Ireland
    Irish Dry Stout | 4.2% ABV

    A step up in wrapping quality today. So much so that I was inspired to use the paper as a backdrop for the second photo. We'll see how long it stays there for.

    Obviously I've had Guinness countless times. I prefer it on nitro-tap or from a widget can; from a bottle is certainly the least authentic way to enjoy a pint of Guinness. Hell, it's not even a pint when you get a bottle! Additionally there are some very troubling words on that bottle: "serve extra cold". As a stout lover, and as someone who can appreciate the significance of Guinness, this just makes me sad. I wish Guinness could survive with a bottle that said "serve lukewarm and enjoy the taste of beer", but I'm not sure that it would. Anyway, enough of a rant. Let's drink some beer!

    Guinness always pours beautifully. It's a velvety near-black with a full finger of cream coloured foam. The head slowly subsides to half a finger and remains for the entire time. I would usually expect two or three fingers of head from a Guinness, furthering my disappointment in this bottle, but I'll try not to hold it against it.
    The beer smells nutty with a faint coffee aroma. Well balanced, and mild, inviting you in for a taste.
    The taste is subdued. A mix of bread and nut off the front with a small hint of coffee revealing itself soon after. The beer finishes rather quick with a faint taste of bread and earthiness. Well balanced, if underwhelming.
    The mouthfeel of Guinness has always fascinated me. It immediately coats your entire mouth with creaminess which disappears as fast as it comes. Yet somehow the beer still feels watery. I don't understand it, and it's easy to get carried away in that creaminess, but the wateriness is certainly there.

    Guinness is a classic, and it's certainly an important beer in how it has revealed a beer beyond Bud to so many people, but it leaves me wanting more. I can't help but wonder where this reputation of being as dense as a loaf of bread came from because it is one of the lightest, easiest drinking session beers I can think of. Don't get me wrong, Guinness is a fine beer, it's well balanced, and I drink it regularly. I just yearn to travel to Dublin and taste it as it was meant to be had.


  • Global Moderator

    Keep it up mate! love the read! I personally like the Guinness a lot despite being more for lager. I like how its quite sturdy flavour and the thick foam you always get on top are something quite iconic to the Guinness. In my opinion beer should always come from a glass bottle!

  • @DeweyDecibel said in December Beer Blog:

    Guinness always pours beautifully. It's a velvety near-black with a full finger of cream coloured foam. The head slowly subsides to half a finger and remains for the entire time.

    Reading this sentence released a ton of endorphins for me. Excellent work!

  • @Lotias said in December Beer Blog:

    In my opinion beer should always come from a glass bottle!

    I totally agree! Guinness and maybe Kilkenny are my only exceptions since they're so commonly served on nitro taps and a bottle just can't replicate that.

    Otherwise, for sure! Always poured into a glass from a glass bottle.
    Unless you're drinking a Corona (a summer guilty pleasure). Then straight from the bottle with a wedge of lime is the only correct way!

  • Day Three

    St-Ambroise Oatmeal Stout
    McAuslan Brewing | Montréal, Quebec
    Oatmeal Stout | 5% ABV

    St-Ambroise is a beer I've many times and absolutely love. I think it's a very interesting follow-up to the Guinness we had yesterday, because we had quite a few people commenting that they'd never had a Guinness before and quite enjoyed it. I can already tell you that I like St-Ambroise quite a bit more than Guinness, so I'm very interested to see what my new-to-stout friends think of a bolder stout like St-Ambroise.

    St-Ambroise is a gorgeous satin-black, entirely impenetrable in it's darkness. A rather heaving pour resulted in over three fingers of dark, tan head, which subsides entirely over a minute, leaving a quite a bit of lacing on the glass.
    There's a strong aroma of toffee and coffee, which immediately welcomes me in and warms me.
    St-Ambroise is brimming with nutty toffee taste as it hits the tongue, opening up into a bold coffee taste, and finishing earthy. It starts off sweet and finishes a tad bitter, but is regardless a very well balanced beer.
    This stout fully coats in a warming cream, which persists for a dozen or so seconds. The carbonation is understated, but still playful, complementing the dark & mysterious character St-Ambroise presents itself with.

    Simply an excellent beer. Although it's not my favourite oatmeal stout, St-Ambroise is an absolute standard and for good reason. Even with it's relatively low alcohol content it has a warming effect which brings me rosy cheeks and a happy heart. I will be happily drinking St-Ambroise for a very long time and I highly recommend this excellent brew to anyone.


  • @DeweyDecibel I love a good oatmeal stout, I'll have to check that one out.

  • Day Four

    Newcastle Brown Ale
    The John Smith's Brewery | Tadcaster, England
    English Brown Ale | 4.7% ABV

    Pours a brilliant copper, with a fine white head coating the top and maintaining for the duration. The beer effervesces steadily from the bottom, feeding the twinkling white head. It is enchanting!
    There is a strong scent of toffee which finishes with a nice grain smell. Somehow smells perfectly balanced despite these rather sweet aromas. Very nice.
    As I taste the beer my nose is validated with a rush of toffee flavour, followed by some pleasant nutty tones. There is a nice amount of spice holding up the hop profile and creating a great balance. The finish in fairly short, tapering off very smoothly, with a pleasant amount of sweetness. I am very impressed.
    The body is of a medium thickness, and the carbonation plays off my taste-buds in a whimsical manner, without distracting from the taste.

    Today has been a very long day and this beer is the perfect comfort beer for any day, any time, any season. It doesn't do anything revolutionary, but what it sets out to do it does masterfully. This may very well become my go to beer when I'm lucky enough to find it in a bar.


    Update On Yesterday's Brew: Quite a few people did not appreciate yesterday's beer at all. The main complaint was the bitter finish. I'm a little saddened by this, but I'm not super surprised, and the bitterness was my biggest complaint about it too, so I feel somewhat validated I guess. Today's beer is already quite the hit, which makes me very happy!

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  • Day Five

    Bud Light Lime
    Anheuser-Busch | Saint Louis, Missouri
    Light Lager | 4.0% ABV

    Pours a clear straw colour with a few fingers of frothy white head which disappears within 30 seconds. There is absolutely no lacing, and the beer bubbles aggressively.
    The beer smells strongly of lime and nothing else. The lime out there all alone smells unnatural and empty.
    It tastes closer to Sprite than beer. They definitely succeeded in giving it a dominating lime flavour. It's hard to find anything else in there. Hiding in the excessive amount of carbonation are faint tastes of grain. There is no hop taste to speak of. The beer finishes very quick and very mild.
    The body is as light as can be, and the liberally applied carbonation is the only thing that stops it from feeling like water, furthering that feeling of drinking Sprite.

    I honestly can't say I hate this. Even if I don't enjoy it at least it leaves absolutely no taste in my mouth afterward. What I can say is this is not a good beer. This is not something that I will ever be having again because the point of it escapes me. Budweiser boasts of Bud Light's 'superior drinkability'. I am glad that they aren't lying about this, because at least I can get this beer over with quick. Cheers!


  • @DeweyDecibel My least favorite beer. And I only graduated from college a few months ago. I'm totally used to shit beer. The flavor just reminds me of the salt they use for those Tostitos with a hint of Lime chips. Artificial, metallic, and just generally unpleasant.

  • @DeweyDecibel @naltmank I tend to think of it as beer for people who do not like beer. Almost all of the malted flavor and hops are gone. It's really just there to give you something light and alcoholic, and generally misses the point of why I enjoy beer so much. I'm not judging the people who default to it... I just worry that they're missing out on so many wonderful experiences.

  • @naltmank That Tostitos analogy is spot on! I knew it reminded me of something else! I definitely agree with @Billy. This is totally a beer for those who don't like beer. Makes me wonder how the person who brought this beer to the calendar is coping with what we've had so far. I hope they're experiencing some interesting new things. I fear they having a hard time handling a beer with a rich flavour profile

    I shockingly didn't get much metallic flavour, and although the lime tastes 'off' with no other flavours to support it, it didn't seem artificial. It's definitely not pleasant, but it's also not pleasant. It's practically nothing, and I guess that's what some people like.