I tried a decent number of holiday brews this past Christmas season and I have come to something of a conclusion: They just aren't what I like. The last of these beers was Full Sail's Wreck the Halls, their annual Christmas offering with a cute name.
It wasn't bad, per se - it just wasn't special. The beer is a nice golden color, has a very crisp feel to it, and is extremely hoppy. I suppose that shouldn't be too much of a shock, since it really tests out as an IPA, which aren't my specialty at all. So why do I keep trying them? You know what, that's a very good question....I should take that under advisement.
To me Wreck the Halls was just beer. Nothing more, nothing less - just beer. I had the same opinion of Ninkasi's Sleighr (no, that's not an IPA, but it didn't seem especially special either). A lot of beer afficianados really, really loved both beers, but I just can't say I think there is anyting special about them. They look like an amber, they smell hoppy, and they taste like, well, an IPA. Perhaps the specific ingredients are different - or the ratio - from the brewery's normal IPA offering, but in the end they didn't create something new, just something moderately different.
And that's fine, absolutely - if it makes them a little more cash and people like it, go for it. I just need to come to terms with them myself before I buy something, because I now have a better understanding of what I like and what I don't like.
It's kind of amusing to me, I guess. Even a brewery where I like pretty much everything they offer - like Deschutes - didn't overly wow me with their seasonal, Jubelale. Jubelale wasn't as hoppy as the other seasonals I tried and did have a slightly darker look and flavor - which I do like - but it still didn't really grab me.
It's funny - I used to think I could just go to the store and browse the beer aisle, then pick whatever looked good. Can't do that anymore. It's not necessarily only because my tastes have changed over the years - they have - but it's also because of the sheer quantity of specialty brews available and the explosion of unique flavors and combinations the market has brought in recent years. I no longer have 20-25 different ones to choose from with clear demarkations of styles and flavors; now it's so nuanced I really feel like I have to spend some time doing research before I put a bottle in my cart.
It's not bad - I like having the variety available. I just now have to spend more time and plan out a buying decision rather making impulse buys I have recently ended up disappointed with. If there are so many out there, I might as well pick and choose the ones that I'll actually like, right?
Off to do more research...