Normally, I’m quite the fan of Belgian style ales, but I find that I can’t find it in my heart to love this one. Wait, what did you say? It’s a lager? Ah, there’s the source of my confusion!
Let me explain in my review of Lakefront Brewery’s Holiday Spice Lager.
Serving Style: 12 oz. bottle, poured into a pilfered Sam Adams pint glass
Lakefront Brewery’s winter seasonal is a spiced, high gravity lager. It’s a little unusual in that while many craft brewers will produce a holiday seasonal offering, they will do so with an ale, rather than a lager. BeerAdvocate.com describes their “Winter Warmer” category as having a heavy malt presence and low hop bitterness. Spices or other adjuncts aren’t uncommon. Looking through BeerAdvocate’s list of winter warmers shows a preponderance of ales over lagers. In part, this is because craft brewers tend to favor ales. Ales are more forgiving of faults in the brewing process… and don’t require as much time in the fermenter. And time equals money. If a brewer can kick out a beer in a month, tying up a fermentation vessel for three means two fewer batches that could be produced the same time period.
The winter seasonal brew is one that is typically meant to be of higher alcohol content, the warming if you will. The maltiness is also meant to go well with fatty, rich foods like duck, roast beef, and suckling pig. The Holiday Spice Lager is no exception. It is a very malty beer, high in alcohol content (11.0% ABV), and low in hop bitterness. Brewed with cinnamon, orange zest, cloves, and honey, the characteristics that come forward from this offering from Lakefront remind me of a Belgian Trappist Ale.
Unfortunately, the comparisons fall short of actually being good. My pour had little to no carbonation. As is, I was probably too generous on the Look score given. The result being dead or flat mouthfeel, rather than the lively play on the tongue that one expects from a beer, even one so high in gravity as this. Coupled with a cloying sweetness, this beer was actually a bit difficult to finish.
Don’t bother, leave this one on the shelf.