Purchased at Total Wine and More in late December 2011, cellared for 1 year, and poured into tulip glasses.
The Lost Abbey’s high-alcohol holiday biere de garde pours a reddish-orange with a voluminous, frothy, dirty-white head. The distinctly Belgian nose offers pineapple, barnyard funk (due to the brett-aided bottle-conditioning), and other tropical aromas. The first swallow has more caramel and grass than I remember – with a darker hue to match the more robust flavor – and a long, boozy, incredibly pleasing warmth to the finish. This is no longer the “contemplative biere de garde” promised on the bottle; instead, it’s a brutish strong ale for a lonely Christmas Eve, with a mouthful of dusky hops entering on subsequent swallows. Gift of the Magi has a fascinating mélange of flavors, ranging from grassy to woody to spicy and slightly fruity, offering new discoveries with each sip.
Original Review from January 2012:
Purchased at Total Wine & More ($3.99/25.4 oz. bottle) and poured into tulip glasses.
This Lost Abbey Xmas annual pours a murky orange with a frothy, quickly retreating, off-white head. The smell is strong with grapes, fresh dark fruits, berries, spices, and barnyard funk, along with the unmistakable quasi-tropical aroma of wild yeast. Very inviting on the palette with fruit, grass, and a mild sourness, but it quickly warms up to reveal layer after layer of woody texture and complex spice. Gift of the Magi is a fascinating hybrid of a Belgian farmhouse beer and a spicy winter ale, with oak notes, brandy, orchard fruits, bready yeast, and wild grass all present. It gives you so much complex flavor to chew on, you can easily overlook the double-digit alcohol content. A real masterpiece, Gift of the Magi overwhelms you with its Tower of Babel flavors instead of its’ ABV.