Beer Review 0296: Southern Tier 2XMas Ale

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Southern Tier Brewing Company, based in Lakewood, New York, have a fresh seasonal offering for beer lovers this Christmas season — 2XMas Ale, a double spiced ale brewed in the tradition of Swedish glögg.

What is glögg? Glögg is a Swedish term for mulled wine, which is typically a Halloween/Christmas beverage made from red wine and various spices, served warm. The drink can be either alcoholic or nonalcoholic, and classic ingredients include cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, cloves, and orange bitters.

All of that can be found in Southern Tier’s version — their brew contains cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, cloves, orange peels, and they add figs, plus four varieties of malt and two types of hops. Southern Tier does recommend that you enjoy their creation chilled, not warm.

Phineas DeMink and Allen Yahn started the brewery in 2002; their goal was to revive small batch brewing. Today, after numerous expansions, Southern Tier can fill about 10,000 bottles per hour, and you can find them in just about any grocery store. A little more than small batch, but they still create some great brew.

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Pouring made for a small, soapy and bubbly head, which quickly diminished atop a vivid and bright Christmas ornament red brew, which had orange highlights when held to a bright bulb. The body was exceptionally clear, free of particles and sediment, and the lacing was non-existent. It’s a nice looking beer in the glass for Christmastime.

On the nose, here come the spices. You get a bit of everything mentioned in the description; there’s lots of cinnamon, ginger, and clove up front, with more background notes provided by the cardamom and orange peel. There’s a bit of normal beer here, as well — a nice caramel malt lingers, but this also has a somewhat off-putting scent of Hall’s cough drops. The residual aroma is kind of a mix between Hall’s cough drops and gingerbread. Strange, but not completely nose-wrinkling.

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Hitting the palate, there’s quite a bit of cinnamon and clove up front, which makes this have a somewhat abrasive texture as it touches the tongue, but it smoothes in the middle of the taste with a soft orange peel and faint ginger. But 2XMas is all about the finish, which plays off complex: mild ginger that lends a tea-like quality, a gentle bitterness and a lingering cinnamon spice complimented by candied orange. This beer is medium-bodied, with a medium mouthfeel that is fairly foamy when swirled around the cheeks.

If you like all the spices this brew contains, then by all means, be my guest. But if you’re looking for something that resembles beer, you might want to look elsewhere. While I enjoyed the flavors here, and appreciated the way they blended together, half a glass was about all I wanted. Perhaps when I sampled this, I just wanted a beer…instead, I got a spiced Christmas drink. Nothing wrong with that, and this is what Southern Tier intended, but just be prepared for it.

Southern Tier 2XMas Ale, 85 points. Price: $1.79 US for one twelve ounce bottle.

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