Beer of the Weekend #646: Snowstorm 2014

Much like Anchor’s annual Christmas Ale, the beer tonight is an eagerly anticipated winter tradition that changes every year: Snowstorm 2014, brewed by the August Schell Brewing Company of New Ulm, Minnesota.

Serving type: 12-ounce bottle. “032215” is written on the shoulder, so I assume that is a best by date.

Appearance: Pours a ruddy, clear amber (Schell calls it copper) into a tulip. Two fingers of frothy, light tan, buttery head dissipates evenly and leaves a bubbly skim and thicker ring around the edge.

Smell: Very spicy. It is so astringent in the first couple whiffs that it reminds me of powered dishwasher soap. The coriander is prominent and tinged with lemon citrus. Caramel malt and yeasty esters — including apple, strawberry, and cherry — are noticeable after a few minutes. Honey, brown sugar, and cocoa emerge after the beer has warmed for a while.

Taste: The flavor is not as spicy as the smell is at first, which is nice. The spice is still present, though. The body is smooth but lighter, somewhat reminiscent of a hefeweizen (à la the yeast, I assume). There are flavors of caramel, coriander, yeast, apple, strawberry, syrupy cherry, toasted malt, and a little cocoa. The alcohol hangs out in the background, but is not distracting. As it continues to warm, the spice and esters complement each other in a tasty balance.

Drinkability: Spicy and flavorful, this is tasty and drinkable stuff. It is not my favorite Snowstorm edition, but it is a solid brew.

Fun facts about Snowstorm 2014:

-Style: Schell calls it “Grand Cru.” I cannot remember what that means, but it is classified on BA as the less obscure “Belgian Dark Ale.”

-Price: $1.59/bottle at John’s Grocery in Iowa City.

-Alcohol content: 7 percent ABV.

The Quiet Man’s grade: B+.

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