You may be wondering why you’re seeing “Yule” in the title of a post that’s coming out roughly 3 months before Christmas. To be honest, when I came across the AleSmith YuleSmith the other day I just figured I had stumbled upon a leftover from the holiday season that should be perfectly fine to drink. After all, we’re talking about a Double IPA of 9.5% ABV that’s got plenty of staying power from a considerable use of hops. Of course, one quick look at the fireworks on the label and I should have figured out that I’ve got the Summer version in my hands, which is an entirely different brew than the (Winter)YuleSmith of the same name. Why is it called YuleSmith if it comes out in Summer & Winter? I have no idea, but whatever. It’s AleSmith and I’m drinking whatever they’re making whenever they feel like making it.
Anyone that’s familiar with AleSmith and even Imperial IPA’s for that matter should quickly point out how dumb I am. That’s OK, I’m used to the abuse. A quick look on Beer Advocate’s “Top Beers” page will show you that the AleSmith YuleSmith (Summer) is the #6 rated Imperial IPA and #47 on top beers in the world. Say what you will about ratings and BA, but you have to admit that’s pretty impressive. Of course, I had no idea about these fancy ratings before diving into this brew so I’m going in blind.
Poured from a painted bomber into my go-to Sam Adams Lager Glass (The cool, shapely beauty that it is), the YuleSmith shows a bright yellow body with ample carbonation and a two-finger cottony smooth head. Over the top earthy nose does not match up to the appearance at all, seems a lot “Bigger” than it is. Some citrus sneaks through along with faint grassy notes, but mostly I’m experiencing bready, grainy scents mixed with a touch of alcohol. I’m catching some incredible notes from what I figure to be the yeast, which is really cool considering the style. Lots of bitter hops on the tongue along with orange peel and grapefruit. Not scorching like some Doubles but certainly a huge hop presence from first sip to last. Impressive balance with slightly sweet malts and thick, resiny West Coast hops. I’m not sure how AleSmith does this, but there’s a consistency in mouthfeel across their full range of beers that I’ve never seen. Crisp yet creamy, sparkling yet smooth. I’m awful about describing mouthfeel, so let’s just say it’s good and leave it at that. Drinkability is so off the charts that the charts look like a blip in the YuleSmith’s rear view mirror. Sure, it’s got a lot of booze and your taste buds might never be the same, but I was craving more after the last of the 22 ounces drained from my glass.
Should be pretty clear from the description, but this is a 4 hop brew all the way. It’s always hard to judge a beer after you’ve read glowing remarks and high ratings, so I’m glad that I had no idea what I was drinking when I put down my notes. Maybe that’s just ignorance on the part of this Hophead, but it certainly made for a better drinking experience. We’ll see if I can avoid the temptation to look up YuleSmith (Winter) Imperial Red notes while I begin my search in the next couple of months.