Christmas has come to Wildflower in the form of their first Noel, a beer conceived to channel and complement the spirit of warmth and spice that washes over much of Europe at this time of year. But, unlike a great many Christmas beers, Noel isn’t actually spiced. Instead it relies on malt, yeast and the not-so-secret ingredient of Muscat barrels to do the job.
The malt base is all-important and comes courtesy of Voyager Craft Malt in NSW, their Munich variant accounting for 99 percent of the load (the other one percent is roasted Chocolate malt, if you’ve a particularly tuned palate). That provides the beer’s dark mahogany colour and aids in the underlying rich and sweet character, which is centred around flavours akin to dried or stewed fruit. Much of that’s also down to the effect of those old wine barrels.
Having been brewed mid-year, the beer spent three months in oak where it set about extracting the naturally fresh and fruity richness of the grape, plus a little of the spice. That was boosted further through fermentation with the Wildflower yeast which has, in turn, contributed a kind of cherry coated acidity. The eight percent ABV may not raise too many eyebrows in the wider context of craft beers but within the spectrum of Wildflower’s regular offerings it’s really hitting the high notes. That said, you’d have little trouble knocking off a bottle by yourself. So, despite Noel being a beer made for sharing with your Christmas meal, whether you choose to do so depends on how much you feel your family and friends truly deserve a special treat for their deeds this year.
- Christmas Ale