Updated 12/27/2015: Tasting notes from 12/20/15 and 12/27/15 are below. We revisited Festivus a week after the original review and holy crap is this beer already developing into the delightful treat we remembered from last year.
Ah the holidays, time for spending too much money, over eating, and drinking lots of things filled with spices and alcohol. One of those spicy, boozy drinks I’ve been looking forward to the most is Anthem’s Festivus. Barrels and Mash didn’t exist last year so I couldn’t wait to get some bottles and write this one up for the first time. I sat down next to the Christmas tree, took some pictures, and drank this one with Kate while re-watching some old Star Wars movies so I know what the crap happened in case I see the new one sometime soon. Alright, let’s see how it is.
Company: Anthem Brewing Company
Location: Oklahoma City, OK
Style/Description: Holiday Ale Brewed with Spices and Aged in Bourbon Barrels
Price: $12 (750ml)
Appearance: Pours a hazy rusty copper with a light, white head.
12/27/15: The ginger has faded a bit and the cinnamon and some nutmeg are balancing things out a bit. There is still a bit too much ginger for me, but it’s much more manageable.
12/20/15: Smells like the holidays, that’s for sure. Boozy vanilla, ginger snaps, carrot cake, and cinnamon (the cinnamon aroma almost identical to Kate’s sweet cinnamon melty candle thingy).
12/27/15: Like in the aroma, the overpowering ginger is falling off and the taste is developing into a very apple pie-like situation. Cinnamon and apples are the predominate vibe right now with nutmeg and ginger snaps in the background. The boozy Bourbon barrel notes are also coming in stronger and the mouthfeel is getting a bit more velvety, both of which are very welcome changes.
12/20/15: Cinnamon and ginger carry through in a big way to the taste and are accompanied by very light fruity Bourbon barrel notes, nutmeg, and molasses. The mouthfeel is a bit thinner than last years (from what I remember) and there are some subtle citrus notes , maybe orange zest.
12/27/15: Some orange-y things come in on the finish, but it’s much less acidic than it was a week ago. The ginger is still fairly strong at the tail end but it’s better balanced with the other spices and barrel stepping up.
12/20/15: I feel like I just finished a bite of carrot cake. Interesting. The ginger also lingers along with a bright, almost vinegar acidity and some of orange zest.
12/27/15: Alright, now we are getting to where we need to be. I think this one still needs a bit more time, but there has been a very measurable change in the last 7 days with this brew. It’s developing nicely and the best parts of it are starting to come out as those really bright, loud spices are dying down. We are going to let our other bottles hang out in the cellar for a while before diving back in for another proper write up, so look for that a few months down the road.
12/20/15: This was hands down my favorite holiday beer last year, but there is just something a tad off with this one. Those bright ginger spices dominate this brew and overtake the sweet barrel notes that I was expecting. With the mouthfeel being a bit thinner, and those spices throwing the balance off, I’m left a little disappointed. Don’t get me wrong, it’ll still be a nice holiday beer to share with the family, and I don’t regret buying like 4 of these, but it just isn’t as good as last year’s. I put a couple of these in the cellar and am hoping that some time will chill those spices out, bring in the sweetness, and balance this baby out. We’ll be sure to update the notes and rating accordingly on future tastes as this brew develops.