Yea, I mean, Puyallup River is offering us beer geeks a holiday spiced imperial cream ale (wha…?) and an imperial eggnog stout (uh, ok). Doing a real quick search on RateBeer, the eggnog stout isn’t unprecedented though hardly a common offering. I’m imagining myself in some sort of random conversation on the brewery floor at Puyallup. The topic is holiday beers and the general disdain of the standard expectation from the breweries. Someone say, “let’s get a bit weird this year.” Somehow, that gains traction and eggnog is the obvious choice. But, Imperial Christmas Cream Ale? I love it. I initially didn’t. I saw the bottle, shook my head, and quickly forgot about it. However, it crept back up in my subconscious and every time I saw a bottle it was more and more difficult to pass it up. Puyallup finally broke me and I snagged a bottle of each. Are they worthy additions to the holiday beer or just forgettable novelty beers that fade away silently into he cold winter’s night? Let’s find out.
Puyallup River imperial Eggnog Mud Mountain Milk Stout : 8.5% – I’ve heard good things about the Mud Mountain Milk Stout but haven’t yet had the pleasure. Much like the Christmas Cream Ale, I saw this, basically laughed it off, and moved along. Eventually, it’s novelty overcame my ability to withstand it and I picked up a bottle. Pours pitch black with a dark head. Powerful vanilla and spice aroma is spot on spicy eggnog. I love eggnog. I am happy. Full and oily body. The flavor hits like a mouth full of spice. Too much spice and somehow slightly minty. The vanilla is overshadowed by the spices intensity. There isn’t much of a stout profile, either. Not roasted notes, little chocolate, nothing. The aroma is very inviting but the flavor doesn’t back it up. A bit of a letdown, honestly.
Puyallup River Imperial Christmas Cream Ale : 8.5% – I haven’t had many, or any, even, imperial cream ales in my day. Nor have I had many golden or even pale beers filled with holiday spices. Needless to say, at first glance I passed it over nearly immediately. Where did this idea come from and who at Puyallup said “fuck it, go for it?” I admire the gusto. The beer itself is a hazy pale golden with a large head. The spices fill the room immediately with their holiday aroma. Cinnamon, nutmeg, some light toasted pie crust. Full and slick body. The spice continues to shine in the flavor leaving you with a lingering hot spice in the finish. The booze is fairly well hidden under all those spices. I am a bit suprised at how well this worked. The spices are powerful but this is a well-balanced, well-behaved, spiced strong ale. I’m a bit taken back. I had some pretty good one-liners set up to dog this brew but I can’t use them (Damn. They were good, too). But, at the end of the day, it’s better that this is a good beer than me getting to use those (right?). I’m not saying I’m gonna rush out and buy a bunch more of these this year but it will probably show up in my stock again this time next year.
Well, I’d say Puyallup is one for two on their adventurous holiday brews. The Eggnog Stout didn’t work for me but the Christmas Cream ale was quite pleasant. Batting .500 is something we can all strive for.