Every beer lover knows how hard the question What is your favorite brewery is to answer. Well Nogne-O, Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales, and Stone Brewing Co. have just made that question a little easier for all of us. For the second year in a row the three famous breweries have collaborated to make the beer Special Holiday Ale. This year marks the first time that the brew will be available in Illinois. Last year the beer was brewed in San Diego at Stone Brewery, while this year it was brewed at the Nogne-O Brewery in Grimstad, Norway. Next year the brew will undoubtedly be brewed at Jolly Pumpkin Brewery in Michigan. While the same recipe was followed as last year, differences in brewing techniques, aging, and equipment have resulted in a different beer this year.


Each of the three breweries is represented in the beer with an ingredient from their brewing region. Added to the mix are Michigan chestnuts, white sage from southern California, and Norwegian Juniper berries.  The beer pours a very thick, deep brown red color. A twang of rye followed quickly by rich and sweet malts starts off this beer. Dark fruits, citrus, toffee, spices like cinnamon, as well as a hint of nuttiness and juniper berries are all part of the flavor profile. The finish was warm with alcohol (the brew is 8.5%ABV) and also had a pleasant yet mild hop bitterness (the brew has 50 IBUs). As you can see there was a lot going on in this brew, and my tasting partner commented that it was one of the most complex beers Ive ever tasted. If we had to compare it to a beer, wed pick one of the paramount dopplebocks out there, Ayinger Celebrator.


Indulge yourself in something extra special this winter, and pick up a bottle of the delectable Special Holiday Ale. After all, us Illinoisans have suffered long enough without Stone Brewing Co. in our state, and this is a chance to get a taste of what they are all about. This beer is truly one of a kind, and will measure up with the best holiday brews out there. Will you be treating yourself to something Special this holiday season?