Review: Stone Angel Nollaig Winter Ale

Just over a week and half ago, I received a DM on Twitter from the folks over at Winnipeg's Stone Angel Brewing that their new release, Nollaig Winter Ale was going to be available at the Liquor Mart closest to me. I picked this up as soon as I saw it but only was able to review it now as I've been working more in recent weeks as I'm in retail.. and it's Xmas season. 

From their website: A winter ale with warming spices of cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, and notes of chocolate. Described by customers as “Christmas in a glass”.   5.0% ABV / 20 IBU

Appearance: Dark Winter Ale with an appearance that's not quite pitch black but it's almost there, more of a deep, dark cola brown mixed in with some black coffee to it. 

Aroma: Winter spice! The first thing I get is a bit of cinnamon and ginger, giving off notes of Christmas time ginger snap cookies of my childhood. Quite sweet, a tad spiced, an almost peat-like(?) presence to it and a hint of chocolate. 

Taste: Very sweet but not too sweet. It's a tad roasty with a hint of a peat-like earthiness to it. Mildly sweet with a bit of caramel, and especially spiced and seasonal with notes of cinnamon, cardamom and ginger. I was honestly expecting it to be a cinnamon & nutmeg bomb like we see out of most Winter Ales but this one is more subtle and certainly warms the body a touch. Notes of dark chocolate at the end. The cinnamon gives off a bit of a Christmas treats kind of vibe to the beer, while the ginger tingles the palate just a tad but doesn't give off any heat.

Overall Thoughts: I've been drinking Winter Ales/Winter Spiced Beers since a few years before the idea of BeerCrank was conceived. Most of them are overly cinnamon & clove spiced while quite sweet, while Nollaig is not overpowering the tastebuds in any way. You get a bit of sweetness, a bit of spiced, a bit of chocolate and even a bit of earthiness but no one flavour dominates the beer. As of writing (late Dec. 2020), it's currently available at Liquor Marts in Winnipeg and Brandon (and specialty beer stores) but will likely disappear quite soon until they make their next batch (likely in time for next holiday season).

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