Nowra is synonymous with traffic jams driving down the south coast – not craft beer. But that’s where Hopdog Beerworks call home, who produce one Secret Santa 2013 – a Belgian festive spiced ale. I’m a couple of weeks behind drinking it in late January – I’d say the brewers were aiming for consumption over the Christmas ham. That aside, there’s enough descriptive terms to this beer to not know what to expect, and that’s before discovering it tips the scales at a higher than modest 7% ABV.
Secret Santa pours cloudy light brown/dark orange colour, with an off white head which dissipates, giving off strong smells of pine, spiciness and herbs. In the mouth, there’s some piney-resin, backed-up by a hint of spice and some citrus zest. There’s a wave of bitterness in the swallow, which combined with the citrus gives off a tart sort of taste. It’s certainly an interesting combination, but also sits really well in the mouth with the flavours combining with a really smooth feeling on the tongue.
If all my secret santa presents were as good as this, I’d be stoked. It’s got some really decent flavours, but I think some more spice could have really topped this one off and made it spectacular. Not one to be laughed at with 7% alcohol content, this one scores very well for mine.
Drunk: from the bottle