beer-342_1280×960.jpgI’m not much of a Christmas person. I didn’t used to be this way, I used to love this time of year. The lights, the food, the gifts and getting together with family used to make it all worthwhile. But as I’ve grown older it all just doesn’t do it for me like it used to. But maybe that’s all beginning to change as I begin looking forward to all of the Christmas beers that breweries put out during the holiday season.

beer-343_1280×960.jpgI was given the Michelob 2007 Holiday Gift Pack (appropriately as a gift) and we decided to catch up on Heroes while trying the beers contained within the rocket shaped bottles. First off it’s a lovely package containing two glasses that will help the any beer drinker to really pick up the aroma of the beer. Contained in this year’s release is Celebrate Chocolate Lager (which was first released last year) and the new Celebrate Cherry Lager.

beer-347_1280×960.jpgWhen I first opened the Chocolate Lager, I didn’t quite understand what they were going for with the packaging. I assume the cone shaped cap was to be removed and then I would open the bottle via a bottle opener. It wasn’t until I ripped the cone-cap off that I realized that I was supposed to twist the entire cap off. Not that it has anything to do with the beer, but while the bottles were pretty unusual, a twist-off cap seems a bit low brow.

beer-348_1280×960.jpgBut like I said, the packaging nothing to do with the beer itself, and the beer is the only thing that really matters. I poured Irene and myself the Chocolate Lager first into the two glasses provided within the package. It pours clear and has a dark brown, chocolaty color. I didn’t pick up much chocolate in the aroma, but it was slightly there. Plenty of malt in the aroma as well as a strong alcohol smell (both beers were 8.5%.) No real discernible hop smell though I don’t think it would pair very well with the chocolate.

I really enjoyed the body on this beer, it was full and almost silky. It really filled the mouth and left me really wanting more. At first sip it had a slight chocolate flavor. But I found that the more it warmed the chocolate starting moving forward in both the smell and the flavor, but at no time did it overpower the malt character. I found this to be a very well balanced and tasty beer. If AB sold this in 6-packs I may even pick it up as an occasional change of pace.

As Irene doesn’t drink much beer (or alcohol in general) she was feeling pretty fine after her first couple of glasses of the Chocolate and was primed for the Cherry lager. I opened this bottle correctly and poured into our cleaned glasses. beer-359_1280×960.jpgI poured with a lovely cherry-amber color that I really enjoyed. It still looked like a beer and didn’t look like a blazing red stoplight. The aroma was similar to that of maraschino cherries which was very dominate and overpowered almost every other smell in the aroma. The beer also tasted of maraschino cherries, but at no time was cloying. The beer was sweet, but not overly sweet. If you’re a fan of these cherries, then you’ll probably love the beer as an after dinner aperitif. But I couldn’t personally see drinking this on a regular basis.

Overall, I think this is the perfect gift to give to some of the Light Lager drinkers in your life to show them a beer that can have more flavor and aroma than the beer they’re currently drinking. This could be the elusive gateway beer you’ve been looking for and a great Christmas gift as well. Maybe that’s what I need to lift my Christmas spirits as well, more beer.

(My thoughts on the Brewmaster’s Reserve beer also pictured above will come next week. I plan on sharing some of it with Bill during our Festivus celebration Friday night.)