Due to either forgetfulness or lack of ideas about the topic, I have yet to participate in The Session. This month, Barley Vine chose the straightforward Winter Seasonal as the topic, and I figured I'd join in.
I chose something local: Rohrbach's is a brewery and restaurant located in Rochester, NY. I went with them because the upside of championing someone local exceeded, in my mind, the downside of writing about a beer most of you can't obtain. Rohrbach's doesn't bottle, but their beer can be found on tap in local bars and other spots (such as at minor league baseball games), as well as in growlers, both at the brewery and in a few stores.
Kasey's Kristmas Ale is "a holiday ale made with chocolate malt and real cherries." That's pretty much it. It smells like chocolate-covered cherries and tastes like them too. The ale pours dark brown with red shading that shows up when you hold it to the light. Foamy white head, some lacing. The scent isn't overwhelming, as though you stuck your nose right in a Valentine's Day candy box, but it's clearly in that direction. The taste follows with sweet, very slightly tart, cherries. If I didn't know what it was, I might think it was chocolate-covered raisins. There are dabs of hops to keep it in check, but it isn't at all bitter. Sweet, but not quite cloying.
For me, the downside is the body. It has the small bubble carbonation I like, but it's kind of watery. I don't know what the alcohol content is, but it doesn't seem high. This isn't a hefty, warming winter beer; in fact, it's a guzzler.
So, ultimately, what's the difference between this and Saranac Caramel Porter which I recently panned for being sweet and thin? I guess I just like the taste of Rohrbach's seasonal better, it's less fizzy, and perhaps I count the fact that Saranac calls its beer a porter against it. That being said, I suspect there are those who would find that the Rohrbach isn't their thing. Kaseys Kristmas Ale's is worth a try if you're in the area. If you aren't, find your hometown brewer's local seasonal and try that instead.