By Amy Weirick
For holiday parties, we like to pour more sessionable beers that have mass appeal. But it’s also an ideal time to break out a fun and festive brew.
Homestead Tenpenny Amber Ale:
Brewed in Licking County, Homestead Beer Company’s Tenpenny Amber pours a rich amber copper with a nice creamy head – and a veiled, “clotted” appearance because it’s not pasteurized or filtered. A relatively strong nose offers toasted grainy-toffee malt and a bit of spice, and assertive hops give it hefty herbal citrus underpinnings. In the mouth, a pronounced not-quite-ripe orange flavor emerges, and a layer of pine resin gives this well-crafted beer a long, dry but pleasant finish. At 5.2 percent ABV, this crisp beer is easy to drink if you love hops. Otherwise, its bite may be a bit too big.
Latitude 42° Brewing/Coronado Brewing Brown Ale:
More than 2,200 miles separate the two breweries that collaborated to craft this lovely garnet-colored ale in San Diego and Portage, Michigan. A slight head dissipates quickly; the chocolaty nose with roasted nuts and faint scent of earthy, floral hops signifies good balance – as does the flavor, with just enough brown-sugar sweetness from toasted malt. It’s balanced by an easy flowery-spice taste imparted by yeast esters. The collaborative craftsmanship shows in this 3.5 percent ABV beer, though a dash more carbonation might give more life to the marriage.
Coney Island Hard Root Beer:
The proliferation of new hard root beers prompted us to give this one a try. The clear ebony drink sports a good frothy head that looks – and smells – remarkably like straight-up sugary soda pop. The label promises a hint of vanilla, birch and licorice and the taste matches that promise: it’s spot-on root beer. A medium body and creamy mouth feel earn decent marks, but be ready for excess sugar. If this entry in the lighthearted hard root beer category were less sweet and sported a bit more fizz, it’d be an ice cream float-worthy winner at 5.8 percent ABV.