Sunday, December 25, 2011

Ægir: God Jul (7 percent ABV) – Subtle and delicate

Ægir’s brewery is nestled in the tiny and majestic fjord town of Flåm, Norway, and the brewery’s arrival to the scene there really completed Flåm as an attractive tourist destination. Ægir’s brews are noteworthy for their subtleness; indeed, it often takes a very perceptive palate to identify all the particularities in Ægir’s flavor complexes, as compared to Nøgne Ø’s more “in your face” approach, or so it seems. Both qualities are good, but this difference is why I sometimes prefer Nøgne Ø’s brews: You don’t have to work as hard to draw out and identify the different tastes. 

So, on Christmas Eve, my wife and I decided to take some time to enjoy an Ægir God Jul 7 percent ABV version, and what a treat this one is. Life in the glass begins with a dark amber pour, culminating in a tall and well-retained off-white head. Rolling it around in the glass produces a matrix of sticky laces. In terms of appearance, Ægir’s God Jul is a very attractive brew. 

Taking a whiff reveals a very subtle and Christmassy aroma with an ample amount of complexity: think orange peel, bubblegum, and a hint of spice. The alcohol presence becomes more distinct as the beer warms. The mouthfeel is oily, with medium carbonation. On the palate, the flavors are again very subtle and one has to work a bit to separate them. Bubblegum and orange peel are definitely front and center, followed by some sort of Christmassy spice. The finish is dry, slightly bitter with just a touch of warmth from the alcohol. As the beer’s temperature rises a bit, the orange peel seems to transition into more of a banana flavor, as identified by a number of others on Ratebeer. However, the increased temperature also throws off the balance, making the finish a bit too bitter and boozy to adequately compliment the other flavors. So, be sure to drink this thing at around 8 to 10 Celsius (46-50 f). 

Overall, Ægir’s God Jul rivals any of the Christmas beer’s I’ve sampled this year. It’s highly complex, but in a subtle and delicate manner. In contrast to some of the other Christmas beers I’ve had, the spicy background in God Jul’s aroma and taste really gives it a holiday feel without undermining some of the other flavors. At the right temperature, it is an incredibly well-balanced brew and I’m happy to have a few of these in the cellar.



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