9990 Alesmith Court, Miramar
Most holiday beers are high in alcohol, heavy in texture, and rife with flavors of winter spices, caramel, dried fruits, chocolate, and booze. The majority fall into two categories — Belgian strong ales and imperial stouts — both of which are well suited for cooler winter temps. It’s not like one would yearn for too many of these big, chewy ales in the heat of summer. Rather than relegate their annual holiday offering to meteorological parameters, AleSmith Brewing Company cuts against the grain, using actual grains to brew a beer that goes down good in any climate, an imperial red ale called YuleSmith.
It’s not a total departure, with a substantial ABV of 8.5% and more malt than most of the hoppy beers in AleSmith’s portfolio, but it’s the most American, and for sure the most “West Coast,” of anything being produced as a local yuletide seasonal. That’s thanks to a pungent bouquet of floral, piney hops, all of which come through with lively force as they march across taste buds like a platoon of bell-stockinged elves. But this beer is not one-dimensional. The malt bill is every bit as important as those hops, contributing a savory breadiness with notes of toffee and spice, and bringing familiar December flavors into the fold.
Unlike most holiday beers, this isn’t one to be held onto and explored during future Christmases, Hanukahs, or otherwise merry occasions. This should be drunk fresh to experience the most vibrant hop flavors possible. This would seem to mean one must endure 11 YuleSmith-free months, but knowing hops are a hit any time of year, AleSmith also brews a summer edition of YuleSmith. Instead of an imperial red, they go the double IPA route, infusing a bevy of fruity, citrusy hops into a golden, rather hearty brew that, at 8.5%, waves a taunting finger at the seasonal thermometer but has plenty of fruity flavor to back up its deviation from the norm.