The amount of anticipation I have built up in regard to this year's Craft Beer Advent Calendar is patently ridiculous, but I am unwilling to apologize for it; last year's inaugural effort was a brilliant surprise, whereas this year's offering is a pleasure I have eagerly awaited since the summer.
Seriously. The Christmas lights have been up (but not on) for weeks, Audrey and the girls busted out the DecCon 3 decorations (DecCon 1 = total engagement with tree and presents, anticipated within the next ten days) and Christmas village this weekend, accompanied by appropriately seasonal music, but for me, this holiday season truly began this morning when I (tentatively, furtively) pushed open the perforated portal of the packaging containing the first of a score and four craft beers that will take me on a journey across not only multiple styles of beer but also North America itself.
The first offering this time around is a Maple Porter from Nickel Brook Brewing. Being a fan of the darker beers, I am quite found of porters and stouts for the most part, and they make a wonderfully effective foundation for a sweeter sipper or dessert beer.
Nickel Brook's Maple Porter pours a rich, dark brown, with a caramel coloured head that is incredibly, let's call it enthusiastic and pervasive; I only got half the bottle into the chalice before the dense foam threatened to broach the lip, and when I finished slurping off this delicious excess, I noticed the bottle itself was running about 50/50 between foam and liquid. This may have been a blessing in disguise though, as the maple flavours are far more discernible in the head than even in the beer itself, probably due to the greater aeration.
I enjoyed the beer, although it wouldn't eclipse Wild Rose's Cherry Porter as a seasonal favourite; very dark in aspect, with the coffee notes one expects from a robust porter, it has a decidedly tart, though not unpleasantly sour, taste that is somewhat at odds with the sweetness of the understated maple syrup that is most discernible in the aftertaste and nose,
This beer did present an excellent kickoff to an evening of self-medication following a slip on the ice and massive amounts of snow removal earlier today, and I would happily try Nickel Brook's Maple Porter again given the opportunity. I am also a fan of their Green Apple lager, but that is more of a summer quencher.
As a counterpart to this comestible side of Advent, I thought I should give equal opportunity to the magnetic calendar the girls enjoy deploying every year; as the box of Advent beer wanes, the nativity waxes, which seems all too appropriate. They alternate days, with Glory getting the the blue boxes, and thus, first dibs on the first star.