5985 Santa Fe Street, Pacific Beach
I don’t know about you, but the words “don’t open ‘til Christmas” come across like a mandate not to think about pink elephants. Once communicated, all I can think of is what I’m not supposed to do. While it’s great to follow tradition and rules, there’s something good waiting for me beyond that shiny, holiday-themed gift wrap. Similarly, deliciousness often awaits just beyond the cork or cap of a bottle of holiday beer. Fortunately, it’s rare that any of them enforce mandatory timeframes for enjoyment. And even though that’s not the case with the group of yuletide brews produced by Karl Strauss Brewing Company, brewmaster Paul Segura and company would rather one wait until December 25 to enjoy their latest Christmas offering. December 25, 2021, that is.
Karl Strauss Five Wee Heavy Bells, is the fifth in a line of 12 holiday-themed beers comprising the company’s "12 Days" ale series. All of these brews are higher in alcohol and malt-driven. The purpose for this is so the entire dozen can be saved and enjoyed during one epic session come Christmas the year of the twelfth beer’s release. So, the patience I force myself to exhibit must be septupled…unless I pick up an extra bottle. If you enjoy a good loophole as much as I do, I recommend going this route, or procuring a bottle for your beer cellar then sampling this brew on draft at one of Karl Strauss’ brewery restaurants.
Described as a “Scotch on Scotch ale,” it’s a traditional wee heavy, the highest-alcohol type of Scottish ale (imperial Scottish ales earn the "Scotch ale" designation). The beer is extremely malty and admittedly boozy, but not just from the productive yeast that helped get it to 9.5% alcohol-by-volume. The beer was rested on Scotch-soaked American oak chips to give it extra depth and presence on the palate. The name Five Wee Heavy Bells references the beer style while giving a nod to the bells at the Mission San Diego de Alcala and the famed golden rings from the “The 12 Days of Christmas” song. Five Wee Heavy Bells follows in the footsteps of the also cellar-able Four Scowling Owls (Belgian-style tripel), Mouette a Trois (fruitcake ale), Two Tortugas (Belgian-style quadrupel), and Parrot in a Palm Tree (Baltic Porter).