There are a lot of great winter beers out there but there are also a fair amount of good ones too. Often I try so many different winter beers over the season that I tend to forget which ones are the best bets for repeat purchase. Barring the crazy knock-your-socks-off standout ales that are so over the top you could not forget them even if you wanted to, I really wanted to revisit some of those winter beers that were highly drinkable i.e. beers you can serve to Christmas company who are not raving beer geeks or beers you can buy in a six pack because you won’t get tired them after one beer. In this pursuit I decided to do a side-by-side comparison of Deschutes Brewery’s Jubelale and Tree Brewing’s Vertical Ale.
Deschutes Jubelale: A deep amber red with lots of off-white creamy head that has great retention. Sweet malt on the nose with a trace amount of bitter hop. Medium body with a ton of malt flavour and a hefty amount of hop at the finish. Overall I am not sure what makes this a winter beer per se. It is a great beer, well-balanced, and definitely representative of the hop-loving style that has come to define the Pacific Northwest. However, the ale seems to need something else to really make you think winter. I would give this beer a 3.5/5.
Tree Vertical Ale: A very clear orange amber ale with a minimal amount of bright white head and a slight effervescence. Vanilla really dominates on the nose and dominates on the palate as well. It is very light in body but smooth to drink. It reminds me of cream soda. Drinks better quite cold. Overall another highly-drinkable beer but I feel like this could benefit from a bit more body to really make it winter ale. Honestly the overall lightness made me think great Spring beer –if there is such a thing. I would give this beer a 4/5.
The obvious solution …blend these two beers together!
The Result: The sum is really better than the parts in this instance. The vanilla from the Tree softened the bitter hop bite of the Deschutes while imparting that unmistakable Christmas taste element. The Deschutes really gave depth to the Tree beer giving the blended beer a distinct malt character and more substance. Very drinkable. I would give this inspired collaboration 5/5.
*Thanks to my neighbour for the picture, the beer and the blog idea!