FlacoAlto (3849) - Tucson, Arizona, USA - SEP 7, 2006
4.3 AROMA 9/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 9/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 17/20
This beer shows a brilliantly clear rich amber-copper color when held up to the light, otherwise it is a sparkling amber-ruby color. A thick creamy tan head tops this beer. The aroma is all hop; citrusy, bitter, tangerine, and orange all waft from the glass. The head is quite persistent and forms a rocky surface as it slowly settles down. Wow, this is a spicy hop nectar of a brew. I detect some notes of cinnamon along with the hop bomb that is currently in my glass. The finish is bitter but only slightly so in comparison to the hop flavor that is packed into this beer. Quite full bodied for an IPA, almost approaching a Barley-wine in character. The taste is redolent of American hops; grapefruit, and a hop tang along with a certain spice character from the hops as well. This is just perfect for the holiday season, and I wish I had procured more bottles of this.
Having sampled quite a few of these over the years I find that these things definitely peak. When first released they are still a bit hot, but about a month out till about 6 months old these things are really kick ass, after these they seem to fade and lose the intriguing soul that they have during that 1 to 6 month window. What really puts this beer on top is the intriguing composition of ítraditionalí American hop notes with a subtle holiday spice note that is reminiscent of cinnamon, clove, and all spice. I have no Idea how these spices have found their way into this beer, but they are evident, to me, and I donít think that the brewers necessarily added any of them to this brew. Still this beer is a wonderful addition for the holiday season.
BigBastard (668) - L.A., California, USA - SEP 7, 2006
4.4 AROMA 9/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 9/10 PALATE 5/5 OVERALL 17/20
Hop aroma and flavor, but not as hoppy as the summer release. Lots of sticky sweet malt, spice, vanilla and overripe fruit in here as well. Just the right amount of alcohol to kick up your holiday cheer. Look forward to this every year.
Earlier Rating: 2/12/2004 Total Score: 4.6
Wow, hops are all up in your face on this one. But the bitterness mellows, and a nice creamy orange flavor blooms over the tongue. I think this would be an awesome brew on a hot summer night, I plan on cracking one open on July 4th.
Vac (2445) - San Diego, California, USA - SEP 7, 2006
4.5 AROMA 9/10 APPEARANCE 5/5 TASTE 9/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 18/20
This elixir pours into the glass with a deep amber/red body topped by a thick, off white head with lots of lacing left behind. The aroma is slightly sweet yet bitter and hoppy with a grapefruit note, a nice sweet maltiness in the background and a very slight metallic note. The flavor is bitter, piney and hoppy with a sweetness from malt and a touch of grapefruit. The finish is piney and bitter. Medium to full bodied, slightly dry and warming.
JohnC (3004) - Mission Viejo, California, USA - SEP 7, 2006
4.3 AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 5/5 OVERALL 19/20
Iíve had it from the bottle; Iíve had it on draft. This beer rocks. Great up front hoppiness (pine, citrus) in the nose and flavor that finishes off w/ a stunning maltiness. A world class beer from a world class brewery.
Earlier Rating: 12/30/2002 Total Score: 4.3
Rating 21 Dec 2003:
This beer is a work of art. It's beautifully balanced between hops and malt. Great hop aroma, initial hop flavor, but it finishes with maltiness on the tongue. Absolutely great.
Previous Rating: citrus nose, does have the color of apple cider. poured w/ a head full of tiny bubbles. Starts out hoppy, finishes malty & cleanly. A nice drink
BBB63 (6443) - La Porte, Indiana, USA - SEP 7, 2006
4 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 17/20
Lucky for me I have notes and ratings for both versions after the split:
2003: Cloudy deep copper and reddish hue with a very nice creamy off-white head and very good lacing. The aroma was pine, grapefruit, pepper, orange zest, roasted malt, mocha, and leathery yeast esters. Large pine and fruit presence upfront followed by a solid mocha and vanilla malt undertone. Minor spices upon the finish with lingering bitterness and citric components. Medium-bodied with a creamy and lively mouthfeel, alcohol was well hidden. This is a excellent hoppy brew, not a "holiday beer" since it would have needed more spice to fit that genre. If you like your hops, this is a beer for you.
Earlier Rating: 12/26/2003 Total Score: 4.2
The split rate for the summer version: This has mellowed slightly into one outstanding brew, well balanced and great depth of palate, the summer 2004 is the equal of the winter 2003, maybe better. BUT WATCH OUT, donít upset the yeast!------
DYCSoccer17 (3490) - Woodland, California, USA - SEP 7, 2006
3.9 AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 16/20
UPDATED: NOV 16, 2011 Bottle. Rated on Apr 30, 2005. Bottle from Winter 04/05. Thanks to JohnC for this. Aroma is a nice balanced piney feel with mild touches of citrus grapefruit. Nothing overly amazing in the aroma, though. Amber/copper hazy color with nice frothy whitish head and big-time floaties. Start is bitter with piney notes with an awesome sweet and caramel malty backbone in the milddle. This nice malty body is what makes Alesmith stand out so much IMO. Finishes citrusy and orangey with mild hoppiness and bitterness. Hides the 8.5% very well. This beer is highly rated for damn good reason! (7/4/9/5/18) *******RE-RATE*****The aroma has some sweet candi sugars and some nice piney hop notes present. Mild cattiness, too. Transparent copper-amber body with a medium off-yellow head present. Starts a little more carbonated than I would expect, but this becomes piney with hoppiness. The middle has a nice, husky, chewy, grainy maltiness. Mild caramel maltiness. Good mouthfeel and body. FInishes with more herbal and some light piney hop bitterness. Very enjoyable stuff.
MI2CA (1340) - Noblesville, Indiana, USA - SEP 7, 2006
4.5 AROMA 9/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 9/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 19/20
Orginal rate 01/05/05 7/4/9/4/19
22oz Dec 2004 batch - One of my favorite beers right now. Strong hop smell typical to a west coast IPA. Copper color with nice subtle head. Flavor is crisp, clean, and very hoppy. As Alesmith says "leave you thristing for the next sip" is right on!<!-- br --><!-- br -->
Aged 22oz bottle fom 12/04 and it is still awesome. More carmel malt aroma to balance out the still great hop presence. I could sit there smelling this one all day long. Flavor is even smoother than the freshy if thatís possible. The malts and hops blend perfectly together for a carmelly hop flavor. Palate is creamy and smooth with a slight bite from the hop. Fresh or aged, this is my favorite brew.
jercraigs (8485) - Toronto, Ontario, CANADA - SEP 7, 2006
4.2 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 9/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 17/20
December 2004 Copper - dark amber body. Gorgeous big creamy off white head, and nice lacing on the glass. Big pleasantly hoppy aroma, shows a touch of green hops and muted citrus. Lots of hops present in the flavour predominantly resiny with a touch of pine but not much citrus aside from some punchy grapefruit in the finish. Nice medium to full body. Very nice beer. Thanks to whoever brought this to Dougs for the Toronto Christmas Party 2004. 8/4/9/4/17 - 4.2
illinismitty (2270) - Nashville, Tennessee, USA - SEP 7, 2006
4.3 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 5/5 TASTE 9/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 17/20
UPDATED: DEC 17, 2006 Another premium bottle courtesy of zug4abby. (SIDENOTE: I got to trade with her again soon). Bottle. Pours clear copper, with a nice off white head. Perfect appearance. Nice clean aroma of floral and citrus hops, with a hint of caramel. The hop profile in the flavor is great, very citrusy with a pleasant bite. Nicely balanced by sweet malt and caramel notes. The malt continues through the finish, complimented by some grassy bitterness that lingers wonderfully. Medium bodied with a creamy mouthfeel. A superb strong ale for the hop head. UPDATE: I found another bottle that Abby had sent,which had spent a year in the cellar. Aroma and flavor are much maltier, as the hops have melded. After a year, this is a very much like a tame barleywine. Good. However, with the wonderful hop flavors in a fresh bottle, I see no need to cellar a bottle again.
Enniskillen (2044) - Salinas, California, USA - SEP 7, 2006
4.1 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 17/20
Smells like a christmas tree, I should just dump this on our fake one for that real tree smell. A hint of honey and hops besides the pine. Actually quite sweet, with honey, hops are presented nicely and smooth. The aroma is very strong and room filling.