Every July, I like to have fun with beer. Christmas beers to be exact, and I make it a point to celebrate all month long with Christmas and winter seasonal brews that I’ve stocked away for the occasion. Sometimes, others get in on the act (my local Taco Mac stashes a keg here in there from December to July) and I can expand my Christmas in July drinking opportunities. Never before, however, have I imbibed a Christmas beer released in July. That’s just what I did, though, with a mug of Xmas in July by Atlanta’s Second Self brewery.
I found this (draft only) specialty beer on tap at Taco Mac in Canton, one of only two Taco Macs that have it. There was no way I was leaving without trying it, of course, even if it didn’t arrive there until August. A curious beer indeed and difficult to peg stylistically (even the brewery seems unsure what to call it). Here’s what they say about it on their website:
This lightly-SPICED SUMMER Belgian ale is inspired by one of our favorite styles, the Winter Belgian Quad. We started with a light Belgian strong beer with winter spices (coriander and a touch of CLOVE) to remind you of the season to come. Then to balance out, we add summer spices (pink PEPPERcorn and orange peel) to lighten the flavor and spice it up. The end result is a beer that is FRUITY yet spicy and flavorful yet light. A true treat to get you through the hottest time of the year.
First off, I’d not call the spicing light here as the spices really define the beer. It’s nowhere near strong or dark enough to be a quad, and I have no idea what a “light Belgian strong beer” is. It reminded me of a saison when I first tried it. I’ll just call it a spiced ale, but whatever you call it, it’s delicious.
Second Self Xmas in July has an alcohol content of 6.7% by volume with 24 IBUs. I paid a hefty $7.50 for this beer, but I did get a full 20-ounce mug and not an 11-ounce short pour. That’s not so bad then for a rare specialty beer.
My mug of Second Self Xmas in July arrived a hazy yellow orange color with a minimal head formation and a bright, vibrant nose of citrus and clove. Taking a sip, I got tart wheat and light biscuit malt up front followed by cloves, coriander, bitter orange peel, yeasty funk, pungent peppercorns and a tart gently sour spicy finish. I didn’t really get the ginger, though, and although I loved the spicy, yeasty, quenching nature of this beer, I wasn’t feeling the “Christmas” connection.
That’s OK though. Second Self Xmas in July was so good that my 20-ounce mug disappeared in no time, and I couldn’t stop myself from pulling on it. Will it be back again in 2016? I sure hope so…..
And remember, try a new beer today, and drink outside the box.
*Pricing data accurate at time of review or latest update. For reference only, based on actual price paid by reviewer.