I was going through my beer box the other day, and saw that I had yet to drink the Nogne O/Jolly Pumpkin/Stone collaboration Special Holiday Ale. So a placed it in the fridge and waited for the night to drink it.
The three brewers are taking turns brewing this beer.
This is the second release of Special Holiday Ale, which was first brewed in San Diego in 2008. Each brew is following the same recipe, including Michigan chestnuts, white sage from southern California and Norwegian juniper berries, but differences in brewing and aging practices produce different beers. Cheers to being different! Ska!
The beer pours a deep mahogany, small head that disappears quickly. The smell is dominated by the sage and juniper, but I could smell a hint of the chestnuts. On the first sip, I could get the sage (the minty taste was first thing I noticed) and juniper upfront, and the chestnuts came about as the beer warmed a bit. The malt is hidden by the spices, but is still present (I was tasting a sweetness that I figured was from the malt). The alcohol is also well hidden, as I expected more from a 8.5% beer.
The Special Holiday Ale was silky smooth in my mouth. It is a little thinker than I would like, but very very smooth. I would love to have this beer again, it was a spice bomb, yet very drinkable.