Christmas beers tend to be just an extension of pumpkin beer season, minus the pumpkin. The spice notes that dominate the pumpkin beers carry over to the Christmas beers. The ratios may be tweaked, more ginger, less nutmeg, and maybe something like honey or chocolate is added to switch it up a bit. For the most part, though, that’s what you’re going to expect out of a Christmas beer. Of course no one expects the expected from Short’s.
Juicy Tree is the type of Christmas beer you’d expect from a brewery that doesn’t think twice about producing a bloody mary beer. Spices? Not in this one. Juicy Tree is an experimental IPA brewed with blue spruce tips, cranberries and juniper berries. It is unlike most beers you’ve ever had.
The beer is a stunningly clear shade of copper with a red tint undoubtedly owed to the addition of the cranberries. It’s capped by a lake effect snow layer of rocky white foam. The sweet and tart smell of cranberry dominates at first, but after a second the pine comes through strongly. There’s a touch of graham cracker as well and the overall effect reminds me of sniffing Christmas candles at Bath & Body Works.
You’ll want to brace yourself for the taste. It’s like drinking a cupful of pine needles. It’s not so much a pine bitterness like you’ll find in most hops but rather a straight forward flavor of pine. If you’ve ever had Short’s India Spruce Pilsner you’ll have a good idea what it tastes like. The cranberries come through slightly and while the taste is predominantly pine, the two blend seamlessly together for an excellent taste of the season. The bitterness is subtle and there’s a touch of malt before the beer ends with a semi-dry finish.
Juicy Tree is unlike any other Christmas beer around. It’s unlike pretty much any other beer for that matter. It’s certainly an interesting beer that is likely polarizing. Chances are you’ll love it or hate it. If you hate it, there’s no shame in opting for a typical Christmas beer. But if you love it, I hope you’ll join me in polishing off a six pack on Christmas Eve.
Reminds me a bit of India Spruce Pilsner.