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YULEBIER (BARREL-AGED JUNIPER RYE ESB) – TWB

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The holidays have come and gone. Our pants are a bit tighter, our wallets much lighter, and the snow is a mess of slush. In these early days of January, many folks are returning to work in the post-Christmas fog, having to shower frequently and remember what day it is.

Since I’m still on maternity leave, neither of those things apply to me.  But, also due to being home with two young ones, we haven’t really had much time to pack Christmas away yet either. Most of our decorations are still up (minus the tree), the last of Aunt Holly’s cookies sit lonely in the Tupperwear on the counter, and the Christmas lights still turn on at 4:30 p.m. every day.

A lot of beers were drunk this holiday, but amongst all the hustle and bustle, I didn’t have the wherewithal to write any reviews. Lucky for us, a tall bottle of Yulebier from Kitchener’s TWB Cooperative Brewing also survived to January 3. I figured we should drink this ASAP, before it becomes un-cool to drink something yuletide-y too far into January.

I had no clue what a Yulebier was, and it’s sub-description as “barrel-aged juniper rye ESB” still didn’t help me. But I poured it anyways. This beer is beautifully cloudy, and smells slightly herbal. It starts off sweet and malty, with hints of herbs and spices, but has a drawn-out, strong finish that’s sour and hoppy. After this delicious sip, I had to find out what the heck was I drinking.

There is no Wikipedia for Yulebier, but it seems there are some Scandinavian traditions with brewing a special holiday beer. The Juniper Rye part wasn’t as much of a mystery. It usually has a spicy bite from both the rye and juniper berries. The ESB stands for Extra Special Bitter, an English-style pale ale. These beers are known for their great balance between malt and hop bitterness. So, knowing this now, I’d say that TWB made Santa’s ‘nice’ list. Overall, this one-off from TWB rocks, and something I would drink regardless of holidays..