Updated notes 04/15/2022
This is the bottle that is pictured, same presentation as the original notes. Close to 100% sure that Special Winter Ale is the same as “Spéciale Noël“.
The high carbonation of this beer remains a feature, even seventeen years later. The beer has plenty of Belgian yeast character, and gives a lovely, extremely light hop touch underneath the typically Belgian candy and light spice. When I say that, it’s all very muted in terms of many similar beers, and the finish is drier than one might expect for the style. Very, very light bitterness in the back end.
Not especially winter-like or Christmas-like or even distinctly different than a well-built, superb Belgian Strong Pale (except the color that is darker than many), but delicious, highly drinkable, and a beer that one can fall back on quite easily when a certain stylistic moment is required. My advice? See it, buy it.
Original notes 12/31/2005
Very interesting and unusual. 750 mL corked & caged.
Pours an American Pale Ale orange color with a massive head and lots of carbonation. Once it all settles down, you see some chill haze and plenty of yeast sediment particles.
Very earthy, grassy, farmhouse aroma which ALWAYS reminds me of cider, and there are some sparkling wine qualities about the beer. Quite gassy to drink too.
Tastes are of a good Saison and has some Champagne characteristics in the nose and mouthfeel and tastes. Some mild hops in there too.
Carbonation is a bit prickly and there is a dry short finish to compliments.
Very well crafted, a nice summer aperitif.