Beer: Yule Smith Holiday Ale by AleSmith

John Ross, Columbus Alive

About the brewery

The West Coast is known for making big beers into big business, and AleSmith Brewing Company continues the trend in San Diego. Even the brewery's bottles are big - everything it releases comes in bombers or foil-wrapped champagne containers. The brewery's year-round lineup - including the excellent Horny Devil and Speedway Stout - is augmented by several barrel-aged beers and this amazing seasonal.

About the beer

AleSmith produces Yule Smith twice a year. Bedecked by a firework design, summer's version is a robust imperial India pale ale. Printed with a holiday wreath, the winter edition is an imperial red ale, a fairly unusual style and a welcome holiday treat.

Pouring more brown than red, the cold-weather Yule Smith is a perfectly balanced beer. By this, I mean it brings massively large yet equally potent doses of malt and hops. Piney, flowery aromas waft from the head, but what hits your tongue is a rather thick, slightly sweet elixir tasting of wheat bread, caramel sauce and brown sugar. Its big start is matched by an equally big finish, with notes of graham cracker and grass simmering on the tongue.

If you want a hazy, bready treat, swirl the last third of the beer before pouring to agitate a large amount of yeast that settles on the bottom.

Merry Christmas!

Photo by Will Shilling

AleSmith Yule Smith Holiday Ale

Style: Imperial red ale

ABV: 9.5 percent

Grade: (3.5 of four stars)