Apologies in advance for getting the song stuck in your head all day.
Inspired by the Christmas classic, “The 12 Days of Christmas,” The Bruery in Placentia, California began brewing a series of 12 Christmas beers.
Unlike the song, however, these beers are released over 12 years!
Back in 2008, Partridge in a Pear Tree, the first in the series, was released. I didn’t hear of the series until 2012, however, when my older brother discovered 5 Golden Rings at a local bar in Southern California. This Belgian golden strong ale brewed with pineapple and spiced with cinnamon, allspice, and ginger is still one of his favorite beers, but sadly, it’s incredibly tough to find.
Each of the 12 Beers of Christmas is brewed only once. While much of the stock is released in the year it is brewed, a small amount of each beer is cellared so the whole lineup can be enjoyed together when 12 Drummers Drumming is released… in 2019!
A creative, Christmassy series, you can bet this isn’t all festive fun. Loads of planning has to go into a vertical designed to be released over more than a decade!
But, there’s time each year for enjoyment along the way. And this year’s beer, 8 Maids-a-Milking, was certainly a sweet treat.
An Imperial Milk Stout (11.3% abv), The Bruery bumped up the booze in this usually mild style. Milk Stout, also called Sweet Stout, is a dark, full-bodied beer that’s much sweeter and less bitter than other stouts.
The name Milk Stout is derived from the use of lactose, or milk sugar, as a sweetener. As lactose is an unfermentable sugar (meaning yeast cannot process it to turn it into alcohol and carbon dioxide), it remains in the finished beer, providing additional sweetness and a rich, creamy mouthfeel characteristic of this style. With the mild roast character, this style often has a flavor reminiscent of coffee and cream. So, yes, it’s delicious.
The only item on my Christmas list this year was to make the trek from my parent’s home north of Los Angeles down south to Orange County to visit The Bruery Tasting Room, and on New Year’s Eve, we made it happen!
That meant I got to taste this year’s Christmas beer fresh from the brewery.
Chocolately, creamy, with a little alcohol warmth, it was like a boozy chocolate milk. Definitely keep this one away from the kids!
And, if you have the patience, lay one down in your cellar to revisit in 2019.
Christmas may be over, but look on the bright side – only 11 more months until 9 Lords-A-Leaping is released!
Image source: Thumbnail, 8 Maids-A-Milking bottle, Full size by Natalya Watson