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The Twelve Beers of Christmas

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PALATE: Opens with a burst of grapefruit before changing pace at the midpoint and offering fig, date and raisin notes. A malty, yet pleasantly bitter aftertaste means a complex finish.
CIGAR: Illusione Epernay Le Taureau (94 points) The number three cigar of 2011 doesn't disappoint as its chocolate sweetness plays well with the dried fruit flavors of the beer.
Samuel Adams' Utopias 10th Anniversary Batch (28 percent a.b.v., $160 per bottle)
Probably the most unique beer, and the most sought after, on the market, Utopias was introduced in 2002. The beer is normally released every two years (the last batch was 2011), but for the 10th anniversary of the program, an exception was made. The laborious process to create Utopias takes place entirely at the company's Boston Brewery and is arguably akin to the methodology the Belgians use to create their lambics. Jim Koch, founder of Samuel Adams, and the other brewers start with a malt that has been sweetened with maple syrup. The sweet wort is then balanced by the noble hops Spalt Spalter, Hallertau Mittelfrüh and Tettnang Tettnanger—varieties considered by brewmasters to be the only hops suitable for traditional German lager. To further balance the wort, ale yeasts are then pitched in, as well as yeast strains that are typically reserved for wine and Champagne.
APPEARANCE: Pours an opaque dark brown with no carbonation. Sturdy legs, reminiscent of a dark spirit like brandy or rum.
NOSE: A boozy, complex fragrance of alcohol with dark fruit, rum, Cognac, maple syrup and tawny port notes.
PALATE: Loads of molasses, raisins and dark berries hit the mouth before this heavy liquid's distinct Cognac, vanilla and cocoa notes come in at the midpoint. The finish is malty and long.
CIGAR: Partagás Short (91 points) The nutmeg flavors of this smoke bring a nice spice quotient to this complex beer, while the saltiness balances out the liquid's sweetness. True bliss.
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