Sly Fox Christmas Ale 2010:
Warming spices like cinnamon, ginger, allspice, cloves, and nutmeg are great for mulling wine, cider, and yes, beer. Sly Fox has taken some very traditional holiday flavors and brewed them into a tasty ale. The bottle conditioning and zippy mouthfeel remind me of an authentic Belgian ale, but Sly Fox is brewed right around the corner in Royersford, PA. Sly Fox Christmas 2010 is a snappy red ale, but falls short of being a sour. Rather, it is spicy and a bit sweet-tart in a malty kind of way.
I feel like the complexity occurs almost exclusively at the middle of the tongue and the roof of the mouth, where the spices blend and waft up there to the nasal passages. The aroma is of course a huge part of the flavor experience, and this Christmas ale gives the impression of currants and caramel as well as the aforementioned mulling spices. That being said, the flavors are complex without being confusing. There is no doubt that this was intended for the winter months, and the Christmas holiday in particular.
The body is full but not huge. The yeasts hang in there for a spell, beefing up the body as well as the mouthfeel, but the malt content is not as deep as one might think. It's hard to compare Sly Fox Christmas 2010 to something as massive as Samichlaus, but perhaps it could be riding in the same one-horse-open sleigh as Sam Adams' Old Fezziwig...
Festive for sure, Sly Fox Christmas 2010 would be the perfect drink served up at the home of Farmer Gray... the perfect ending to a perfect day. I give it high marks, though if you don't drink it this holiday season, cellar it clear into next winter and enjoy it the way it was intended... as a holiday spiced treat!
Personal Preference: .85
Total Score: 3.62