Big Sky Biere de Noël 2015

Reviewed by on December 7, 2015 in Holiday Guide

The Details

  • Brewery: Big Sky Brewing Company

  • Origin: Missoula, MT, US

  • Rated On: December 7, 2015

  • Best Before: N/A

  • ABV: 10.1%

  • Ideal Temperature: cool to cellar temperature

  • Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale

  • Rating: GOOD !

The Review

Biere de Noël is Montana’s Big Sky Brewing’s annual holiday strong ale, which we have profiled on the Beer Diaries before.  However, they apparently change up the recipe for this one every year, so in the interest of, um, Imma gonna just say science, let us see how!

This 355ml bottle pours a clear, medium orange-brick amber hue, with two skinny fingers of weakly puffy, loosely foamy, and generally bubbly tan head, which leaves some streaky glacial shelf lace around the glass as it slowly sinks away.

It smells of semi-sweet caramel malt, a touch of dried toffee, brown sugar, faint dark fruit – figs, dates, and besotted raisins, with maybe a bit of saucy maraschino cherry as well – laid-back yeast, a touch of muddled seasonal baking spice, and a bristling, sort of nose-hair twitching, alcohol astringency. The taste is doughy and bready caramel malt, toffee pudding, slightly charred simple syrup, indistinct warming spices, a nice black fruitiness – dates, prunes, and plump raisins – ethereal Belgian-esque yeast, and a bit of earthy, weedy hops, ones who inadvertently slipped into a big ol’ tub o’ booze. The bubbles are pretty well understated, barely showing some frothy legginess for our trouble, the body a solid medium-full weight, generally smooth and somewhat creamy, the alcohol the only obvious transgressor here, and it apparently seems to have other places to be. It finishes on the sweet side, sure, but the various contributors are aligned in that certain old-world way, one which suppresses any thoughts of scraping one’s tongue.

A rather enjoyable ode to the Belgian Strong Dark Ale greats – complex, fruity, and with a big whack of mostly undetectable booze – yup, that’s still what does it for me during Yuletide. Good on this brewery for tweaking the goods in this offering from year to year, but it seems that very little has changed since 2014 – not a bad thing, not a bad thing at all.

Brady White

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