When I was young, Christmas merchandising didn't start until the day after Thanksgiving. That was a few decades ago, and with each passing year, the holiday kickoff keeps coming earlier and earlier. This year, I saw Christmas merchandise across the aisle from Halloween candy. Before you know it, it'll share space with the Easter bunny. It's no surprise then that the first winter seasonals hit the shelves in early September, so I've shown some restraint waiting this long. Here are the first three, with many more to follow.
Cascade Lakes Slippery Slope, $1.39-$1.79
In the glass, this brew is a burnt amber with a thin head that fades quickly, leaving a light lacing. On the nose, you get sweet malt, fresh-mowed grass and just a touch of piney hops. In the mouth, it's smooth and nicely balanced with herb-laced hops backed by toasted malt and brown sugar. This beer is very lightly carbonated, which makes for an easy-drinking quaff perfect for cool weather consumption.
New Belgium Accumulation White India Pale Ale, $1.39-$1.79
This beer pours a hazy straw color with a whipped egg white head that shows good persistence. It leads off with a combo of resiny hops, ginger and lemon drop along with floral, somewhat earthy aromas. The palate opens with a big hit of citrusy hops followed by sweet grapefruit, pineapple, lemon and spice. This is not your typical winter brew, but it's just the thing for late fall.
10 Barrel Pray for Snow, $1.49-$1.89
Bright mahogany in color, this brew is topped by a porous mocha head that collapses after a few seconds. The aromas are light but lovely with fresh baked bread, toffee and notes of sour citrus and smoky malt. A mix of bittersweet flavors, this beer's hops win out over the toasted, almost charred malt, while a bit of fig adds interest on the finish. This is a bigger-bodied brew that should work well when the snow begins to fall.