Nelson Crowle's picture

Judge's Review: 92 Rating - Christmas Cactus by Wren House Brewing Co.

March, 2018
Judges Rating: 
21 / 24
6 / 6
38 / 40
9 / 10
Overall Impression: 
18 / 20

Evaluated as a BJCP 2015 style 30C - Winter Seasonal Beer. Pours a very deep mahogany brown with a small head of tiny deep tan bubbles that quickly fades to a cordon ring in the glass. The aroma starts with sweet chocolate, a light coffee note, some toffee, and then just a hint of sarsaparilla and slightly earthy and floral hops. The first taste is toffee with hints of soy sauce and umami. As the beer warms, more toffee, caramel, and a hint of roasty malt becomes more prominent. Low floral hops can be found both in the aroma and flavor - this beer is all about the malt character. There's some black raisins, hints of sultanas, moderate creme brulee caramelized turbinado sugar and overripe plums. The finish is medium-sweet but not cloying. There are hints of hazelnut that add interesting complexity - almost an Amaretto note. There is a medium carbonation and medium high body for this example. Lots of interesting complexity as the beer warms - this is a beer to order, then let it sit while you drink another beer to let this one warm up a bit. It's definitely a dessert beer - snifter after dinner, skip the brandy - drink this. Make sure you have a good rich dinner with some Cornish pasties, maybe some Scotch eggs, and then retire to the parlor with a snifter.