I’ve been excited about this moment for months now. Cracking that first beer on the first day of the #12BeersofXmas. It’s a beer I’ve wanted to try for ages and one that I have Andy Parker to thank for who gave me this 1 litre bottle of 2011 Williams Bros Brewing Co ‘Nollaig’ last Christmas, and one which I successfully managed to stash cellar until this year.

Nollaig

So what did I think of this beer that has been brewed with hand picked spruce tips from the spring of 2011? At 7% and 1 litre, this was always going to be the only beer of the evening. As the swing top cap released with a loud pop, the ingredients that have been waiting patiently for 3 years were itching to get out of the bottle. The aroma was like plum jam and on the pour a bright, clear deep amber liquid flowed into my glass. The initial taste was a great big sweet hit followed by a lasting bitter finish. The sweetness is almost cloying and the malts are really playing their part in this beer. As it warms there’s a hint of sourness to the finish and then I’m suddenly reminded of a dessert wine I once had, all sweet and sticky with a boozy finish.

As I pour my third and final glass (it IS a litre bottle!) the beer has changed beyond all recognition, The pour is thick and brown and my glass is now full of a murky liquid. It’s almost barley wine-esque but the initial sweetness and bitter finish remains.

I’m happy I chose to start my #12BeersofXmas with this beer as it seemed apt to be ‘drinking’ Christmas trees at this time of the year. I’ve been surprised and overwhelmed by the response to this year’s #12BeersofXmas and you can check out what the other bloggers, tweeters and grammers have been up to today below.

Tomorrow, Ilkley Brewery ‘Worlds End’ – the first of many (barrel-aged) stouts in this year’s line up.