Christmas came early this year at BeerSpeculator. Our friends at Green Man Brewery sent us the gift of Holly King Barrel Aged Holiday Ale. You may remember some of the history of the Green Man from our review of the IPA, but the Holly King… Well that’s a whole different story. The Holly King, recently made popular by certain Neopagan religions, represents the uber druid that protects the autumn and winter months of the year. The Holly King is engaged in an endless battle against the Oak King, champion of the spring and summer months, with their respective powers waxing and waning with the changing seasons. So what does this have to do with beer… Well it just so happens that the Holly King’s power level climbs to over 9,000 in the heart of winter. So let’s see how this wintry heavy weight stacks up at the peak of its strength.
Holly King pours a hazy, rusted copper with a thin, lacy head that dissipates quickly. The aroma is dominated by malt and oak with robust caramel and bourbon notes that are mellowed by vanilla and baking spices. This gives the ale a particularly festive feel.
The flavor profile is also unabashedly malt and oak centric. The flavor opens with buttery caramel and toffee that transitions into an oaky bourbon tone. The alcohol is noticeable but hidden by vanilla and light hints of chocolate. The body is relatively light considering the ABV with a roasty bitterness that finishes clean.
Overall, Holly King is a wonderful example of what a holiday/winter ale should be: malty flavors with a belly-warming splash of booze. Although the oaky barrel-age flavors seem more like the work of that despicable Oak King, we won’t hold that against them. Cheers to Holly King and the possibility of Oak King Barrel-Aged Sour in the summer… Maybe?… Please?
- Appearance: Hazy, Rusted Copper / Thin, Lacy Head
- Aroma: Caramel, Vanilla, Bourbon, Baking Spices
- Flavor: Caramel, Toffee, Bourbon, Vanilla, Chocolate, Oak, Roasty / Bitter Finish
- Mouthfeel: Medium Body, Clean Finish
- ABV: 9.8%
- Score: 87
The beer featured in this review was provided by the respective brewer free of charge. However, the thoughts, ideas, and analysis presented herein represent the honest opinions of the site publisher.