Saturday, December 10, 2011

Hansa: Julebrygg (4.7%) – Finally, the Holiday Season has Arrived

Scandinavia is home to the origins of Christmas beer, and thankfully, the Vikings that settled in England took that tradition with them. While the origins of “Jule Øl” are not specifically tied to Christmas, today we associate Christmas beer with darker lagers and stouts, along with the smells and tastes of ginger and cinnamon, to name a few. Hansa’s “Julebrygg” hails from one of the three Scandinavian countries, namely Norway, and is a style especially suitable for Christmas, namely a dunkel. However, unless you happen to live in Norway and are accustomed to sampling the flavors of this particular Hansa around the time of Christmas, there is nothing else about Hansa's Julebrygg that really speaks to Christmas. 

Life outside the bottle begins with a respectable beige head and an enticing deep brown color. Julebrygg's head imparts clingy and thin lacing. The aroma whispers of sweet malts and raisins – quite impressive really from such an ordinary beer. The overall taste is definitely on the sweeter side, with hints of dark fruits and caramel – what I would expect from a dunkel. Julebrygg's mouth feel is watery, giving it a mildly refreshing character. 

Overall, Hansa's Julebrygg is a very solid, well-balanced dunkel. However, there’s really nothing inherently Christmassy about this beer outside the context of living in Norway and drinking a lot of these around Christmas time. That said, Hansa’s Julebrygg is something I look forward to every year.


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