OK, I'm kinda getting sick of these Christmas beers. Really, who's great idea was this anyway? The reviews almost write themselves at this point: "malty, spiced, strong, 'B.'" I'd really like more of these beers to excel (like the Columbus offering) or at least flame out spectacularly trying to do something different (like the Anchor).
I had some hopes for the Flying Dog entry in to the holiday fray: a strong English ale called "K-9 Cruiser." A brewery that has built its marketing around being "out there" - they're big fans of Hunter S. Thompson - should be able to make this a remarkable beer.
I could probably cut and paste the review for the Columbus Winter Warmer, then take out everything that I enjoyed about it and have an adequate review of the K-9 Cruiser. Starting with the pour, we get a rich reddish-amber with no cloudiness. The head is impressive, a light creamy color that leaves very good lacing despite its quick dissipation.
The aroma doesn't jump out at you. It's a repressed mixture of malt, cinnamon and copper that doesn't really make me want to drink it. It certainly doesn't make me want to smell it.
Like the Columbus beer, the hops are the star of the show here, but not in a pleasurable way. You get the blast of piney hops with a little bit of light roasted malt and some well hidden spice notes that are blasted away by the hops. Don't get me wrong, we're not talking IPA-level bitterness here, but it's turning me off as far as winter beers are concerned.
It feels a tad thicker than previous offerings and isn't heavily carbonated. Still at a strong 7.4% and with this much bitterness, it's not the most drinkable beer I've tasted in this experiment, which leaves me wondering if it has any real redeeming qualities. I guess if I were a bigger hops fan and this didn't advertise itself as a winter ale, I might like it. However, as is I've gotta put this K-9 to sleep.
Beer Advocate readers: B-
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