New Year’s has passed and the holiday beers will soon be gone. Don’t miss your chance to pick up any bottles you’ve had your eye on before they disappear. After the holidays, one beer that emerged as my favorite is Evil Twin Brewing’s Soft Xmas. This beer has a great body that I associate with a well-done imperial stout, and a unique blend of taste characteristics.

The aroma tickles with a hint of spice that emerges as a taste comparable to peppercorns, and is joined with vanilla and cocoa. The peppery taste might come from the mixture of tart and sweet cherries, along with mild clove—a combination of flavors that dominate the flavor profile. The addition of cocoa and vanilla rounds out the beer, and the thick body feel, smoothes the beer out for easy drinkability. The alcohol percentage comes in at 10.9%, and although its viscosity is a tip off to its high ABV, it is otherwise not easily detectable. This would be great with dark chocolate, desserts made with kirsch or marzipan, or—if you’re thinking of something savory—lamb chops.

Of all the stouts I’ve had this season, this is the smoothest, most seriously flavorful stout that I’ve had the pleasure of drinking. It’s soft and strong all the same, and a perfect meal-y winter beer.

Photo credit: flicker.com/connylundgren