(2009) 12 Beers of Christmas, beer 12: O’Shea Brewing Company’s Cerveza Noel

An extensive list of Christmas brews could never be complete without the inclusion of a Christmas homebrew recipe. Thus for our last brew we present you with O’Shea Brewing Company’s Belgian Christmas Ale, also called Cerveza Noel.

About 6 months ago we decided to try their recipe for Cerveza Noel. Not only was this perfect timing for enjoying at Christmas, but this might be our most cherished homebrewed batch of beer yet. The label encourages aging until Christmas, and nothing could be closer to the truth. Like wine, the high alcohol content of this beer improves its taste with age, and provides it with warming Christmas-y characteristics. As mentioned, this beer took several months of bottle aging before developing the spicy aromatics of cinnamon and sweet orange that it now contains. Our June-brewed batch of beer has now cleared to a beautiful deep amber color and boasts a creamy, lacy head.

The ingredients render a sweet caramel malt taste initially, with a hint of orange and coriander in the aftertaste. The Saazy spice background flavors are also well-balanced and complex. Beware though, this is a big beer. Although it’s supposed to ferment to 9% ABV, we estimate our batch was closer to 8.5%, but it definitely still warms the belly and cheers the drinker… even halfway through a bottle. Without a doubt, our O’Shea’s Belgian Christmas Ale batch has become a favorite among our Belgian beer-loving friends.

If you haven’t been to O’Shea’s, it is worth the visit. Located in Laguna Niguel (off Avery and the 5 freeway), O’Shea’s is a one-stop shop for everything essential to beer. Not only do they carry various homebrew ingredients and equipment, they also stock a host of kegs and unique hard to find beers from around the world. The friendly staff can get you started on your very own batch of Cerveza Noel with a starter kit that makes brewing easy. Just be sure to age this one ‘til Christmas… next Christmas that is.

For more info, visit their website.

Cheers and Merry Christmas!

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