Brewdog, Hoppy Christmas - 7.2%, £3.10
Well, thankfully the answer is yes. Rather than settling on a winter warmer of some sort, everyone’s most loved/ hated/apathy-inducing Scottish brewers have released a 7.2 per cent India pale ale hopped heavily to provide something light and fruity to cut through even the richest Christmas foods.
Hoppy Christmas pours golden straw, crystal clear (no bottle-conditioning from Brewdog) beneath a tight, white head.
The aroma is full-on Simcoe hops; bursting with pine, papaya, candied grapefruit, and a musky, almost savoury, chestnut-paté note.
The flavour takes this lead and races off into the distance – juicy mandarins, a candy-floss sweetness, and a sharp lemon tartness in the finish create an intense aromatic mouthful, and yet oddly the finish is not particularly bitter.
Yes, there is bitterness, but Hoppy Christmas is almost approachable, maybe even drinkable– it’s all about the flavour here, rather than some puerile boast about bitterness units.
It’s not been my favourite beer of the season (Nogne O’s Underlig Jul almost always wins this one, I’m afraid) but for a beer so atypical of the Christmas-cash-ins that flood the market every year, this one deserves to be tried. It’s not only an exception to the norm, it’s also a genuinely good beer.
• Recommended by Michael Bates of The House of Trembling Madness, Stonegate, York.