Free State Santa’s Helper

I apologize for the end-of-post geekout session.

See, here’s what happened. I ordered a Great Divide Hibernation Ale. I got a very hoppy beer with a back hit of clove/nutmeg. I thought “Self, this makes sense. Most Great Divide beers that I’ve had have been extremely hoppy, so I am not surprised to find that their Winter Seasonal is also, in fact, a hoppy beer.” I enjoyed the beer.

Then I got home and realized that the Hibernation Ale is an Old Ale (read: VERY FEW HOPS). I thought “Self, either you did not have a Hibernation Ale, or Great Divide has no idea what an Old Ale is. However, Great Divide is a fantastic brewery, ergo the fault in this situation is not theirs.” Then I looked at the list of available beers at the said drinking establishment, took a guess at what it was that I had really had, and then went back and ordered a sample to verify that my guess was, in fact, correct, because I want to make sure that I’m not spreading beer misinformation here.

Long story short: this is why I didn’t review this beer for you last Wednesday – I wasn’t actually for sure what the hell it was I’d just drank. Now I know. Here’s your Santa’s Helper review.

Basic Info:
 Santa’s Helper
Origin: Free State Brewing Co., Lawrence, KS
Style: Belgian IPA*
ABV: 8.0%**
IBU: 48
I drank this: on tap at Old Chicago, Olathe

Scent-wise, this is somewhere in Cascades Bomb-land, which is sort of funny because there aren’t actually any Cascades hops in the beer. What I mean by “Cascades Bomb” is that this is an intensely citrus-smelling beer, all grapefruit and citrus rind – the type of beer that I’m forever begging to be made into perfume. It’s a cloudy amber color with a quickly-dissipating white head. Basically, it’s an IPA.

This beer has a thick mouthfeel with a sweet kick from the malts and a sort of fruity tinge from the yeast, all of which is almost immediately obliterated by OMGHOPS. The hops are so overwhelming that I had to be thinking about it to notice much beyond them. When I was paying attention, I noticed the sweetness of the malts and a sort of clove hit, along with a touch of spice and something that quite honestly read mostly like root beer at the swallow.

The aftertaste is a strongly resinous hop flavor with a touch of caramel and clove. All told, it’s a good beer – I actually have a line in my reviewing notes that says “OM NOM,” and I don’t usually devolve into lolcat*** (or kitty pidgin****) when writing my notes. So take my incoherence to mean that this beer is pretty kickass awesome and that you should track one down before January if you’re in the KC/Lawrence area.

*This isn’t a style I’ve seen all that much of, but when I saw “Belgian IPA” I immediately thought “yeah, that makes sense.” Belgian yeast always tastes like BananaClove to me, and I could kind of taste that in this beer – every time I mention anything about fruit or spice or clove or root beer, it’s a reflection of the yeast strain that they used rather than anything else they might have thrown into the brewing pot. It’s interesting to see how much the choice of yeast can affect the flavor of a brew.

**I’m not sure when Free State decided that telling us an ABV would be appropriate – it’s more recent than my most recent review of one of their beers. Last I checked, they’d give an OG but not an ABV. I like seeing the OG measure but find the ABV much more useful, so yay to them.

***Admittedly, I assume you know what a lolcat is – you’re reading this on the internet, which means you’re online, which means you’ve seen a lolcat before. But I felt I should link to the site anyway, no matter how circa-2006 it is, because, well, CATS!

****Yes, The Internet IS in fact translating the Bible into kitty pidgin. No, I’m not sure why either. I find the project amusing rather than blasphemous. However, my Master’s Thesis was on controversies surrounding late-medieval English Bible translations (i.e., “Fun With Wycliffites”)(i.e., “we’ve found a witch heretic, may we burn her?”), so I think the whole thing is extremely funny. My amusement means I’m giving y’all a link to the project, which you can click or ignore to your heart’s content.*****

*****I assume you people know by now the sheer level of my geekitude. If you didn’t, this series of footnotes should clue you in. Sorry about that.


About Kim

Kim spends a lot of time writing, thinking about writing, reading, writing more and dealing with writer's block. When she's not writing, she might be found having a beer. She often combines the writing experience with the beer experience. The combination tends to lead to more creativity but significantly impaired spelling.
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