Despite the Christmas-themed series title, only two or three of the entries are holiday or winter beers. Today’s post is one of them: Southern Tier’s 2Xmas. At the risk of annoying my New York readers—if I have any New York readers—the Lakewood, NY based brewery is one of about two good commercial-ish breweries in the state, Ommegang being the other one. There are lots of good Christmas and winter beers out now, but Southern Tier’s offering is particularly noteworthy for being “brewed in the tradition of Swedish Glögg” as it says on the bottle. Now, I’ve had Glögg. It’s a very thick, spiced wine, and when we were in DC, we got some that had been imported from Sweden. 2Xmas, being a beer, is not a true Glögg, but it comes impressively close. Though, as the brewery notes, it’s best served chilled, which is not true of actual Glögg. But enough of that. You’re probably here for a review, and a review you shall have.
Pour/Appearance: (Ben) Short lived one finger head. 2XMas is a deep mahogany in the glass, nearly transparent for all its dark color.
Nose: (Ben) The nose is cardamom, cinnamon, orange, nutmeg and mace; all of the hallmarks of Swedish glögg, even though this is beer and not wine.
(Meagan) Has a lovely smell; If I weren’t so keen to drink it, I’d keep sniffing it for a while, like a potpourri sachet or something. Strong spiced aroma, with a bit of sweet maltiness, almost like a holiday bread, or maybe an unsweetened chai. That’d be the cardamom, I imagine.
Taste: (Ben) Flavor might have some juniper and allspice in it, but the alcohol warmth goes great with my smoked salmon sandwich. There is malt presence, no hops. Spice is the forward flavor. Just like the Swedish mulled wine I keep referencing, the spice is the thing.
(Meagan) If Glögg were generally beer and not wine, it would taste like this. 2Xmas is malty, sure, but mostly what I taste is all those delicious mulling spices; it’s fairly dry, and the initial fig and whatnot give way to a clove and orange peel bite on the back of the tongue.
Body/Mouth feel: (Ben) Medium body, with some kind of herbal bitter (gruit-like?) on the tongue after the beer fades.
(Meagan) Medium-bodied, not particularly viscous. At 8% ABV, it’s far from thin and weak, but the dryness works with the spices and hops to keep it from being at all cloying. It’s thin for a genuine Glögg, but totally fine for a spiced beer.
Overall: (Ben) Yummness. I like this one a lot. Great take on a winter beer, with a traditional spice profile usually seen in wine or cider.
Buy it –
I would definitely buy more of it. And I will. Just maybe not this year; there are so many more to try.
Brew it –
Yeah! I think I might. Getting the spices right might be a challenge, and I think I would try for more malt in the flavor, but Southern Tier has done a great job. There aren’t a lot of national – class NY state breweries (Southern Tier, Ommegang) but those two do alright. Way to make it stand out from the herd.
(Meagan) It’s got the right profile to be a Glögg; it’s just not wine. Which makes me happy, since I’m way more of a beer geek than a wine aficionado. Next to this, many other Christmas spiced beers seem kind of thin and sad. I’d love to try brewing one like this sometime. 2Xmas gets a Beer Advocate score of 84, in the category of herbed/spiced beer. I’d have to disagree with the old BA on this one. 2XMas is one the best spiced beers I’ve had the pleasure of drinking, and I’d give it a 90, at least.