FEATURE DEBUT: Hops & The City

Angelica RossHops & The City is an exploration of beer in Pittsburgh by our resident craft beer enthusiast, Angelica Ross. Angelica is pitting beers against each other and honing her taste skills simultaneously while providing you with her unique opinions on the brews in front of her. It’s like Carrie dishing about men and learning about which guy suits her best…except for Angelica, it’s beer. Lots and lots of beer. Follow Angelica on Twitter @syntaxxerrorrr


It’s Beer-Mas Time In The City

Beer. The thing that will make Christmas bearable for so many of us. As with all, my family gets an Academy Award for being crazier during the holidays. I say, get a little festive and find some Christmas beers to toast the season. It’ll be a lot more interesting to watch your family go crazy with a beer in your hand.

What’s on tap today? Full Pint Brewing Festivus, Penn Brewery St. Nikolaus Bock, Great Lakes Brewing Co. Christmas Ale, and Fat Head’s Brewery Holly Jolly

Christmas Beers


What I love about Festivus is that it’s perfectly nothing special. I mean, I love it, but in a sea of ginger-y, nutmeg-y, over-the-top-y beer, sometimes you want something that you don’t get sick of after having just one. This is the beer you can sit down with after work and crack open three or four without a problem. It has a little spiciness, but it isn’t anything distinctive – just enough to make you feel like you’re drinking something festive. The beauty of this beer compared to the others in the flight is that it actually tastes like beer. Your Uncle Marty will like it and not feel like he’s drinking “one of your fruity crafty things” and you’ll like that your beverage is getting everyone in the holiday spirit. I have no grievances here.

St. Nikolaus Bock

I hate to say it, but St. Nick is my least favorite of the flight. It’s a darker, roastier taste with a hint of chocolate only discernible to me by the roasty smell. I know there’s chocolate there, so my taste buds totally faked me out and are like, “Why yes, there is chocolate here.” My Tasting Partner In Crime got the chocolate, though. Maybe I need to do more experimenting with bocks to understand the taste profile because I’m just not getting this one. The best way to describe this full-body bock is that it’s like St. Nick sliding down the chimney of your throat. It’s very full-bodied with just a little sweetness. I’d be set with one of these in a night.

Christmas Ale

Christmas is a ginger explosion. If there is something else in here other than ginger, I have a hard time finding it. Great Lakes tells us there’s a little cinnamon and honey in here, and I could taste the cinnamon a bit at the very bottom of the glass, but that’s all. Overall, this beer is just a pinch of ginger short of Gilligan’s Island. It’s another beer I enjoy but only one a night. The spice overpowers me and there isn’t anything to balance it.

Holly Jolly

Holly Jolly is definitely my favorite. If you want to feel like you’re drinking Christmas, this is it. I love seasonals that embrace the season without going over the top. Holly Jolly is doing just that, minus a hint of pine. There’s something about cinnamon that reminds me of the holidays. It’s warm and homey and tastes like you’re giving your mouth a hug. I think you get my point, but cinnamon = my happy place. What I liked about this beer is cinnamon and ginger both on the nose and the tongue, but it wasn’t like a visit from the Professor and Mary Anne. It’s more mellow than that. My Partner In Crime couldn’t taste the cinnamon, but I felt like it’s there…especially after the ginger-splosion of the Christmas Ale. Fat Head’s says there’s also nutmeg and coriander in here, but I need to refine my taste more to pick up on that.


So…what I learned is balance in spiced beers is necessary and I need to taste more bocks.

Another thing that came out of this trip: Does anyone know about Drunk History? I’m thinking we need to get notable Pittsburghers to do Drunk Pittsburgh History. Can you picture Rick Sebak toasted on whiskey and talking about Dippy the Dinosaur? It needs to happen. Maybe in the next installment…


What’s Your Favorite Christmas/holiday seasonal? I need recommendations for the next round! Share your favorites in the Comments below.





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