Brewsday: Wychwood Bah Humbug, guest-starring Ebeneezer Scrooge

Oh, fa-la-la do I ever love Christmas!  I have always been a total sucker for it: the lights, the music, the decorations, the food, the carols, the TV specials, the tree, the presents.  I am one of those few people who doesn’t start grumbling when the mall switches straight over from Hallowe’en to Holiday, and now that it’s the start of December I can start openly expressing my enthusiasm.

Break out the blinkers!  Deck those halls!  Fire up the hearth and egg the nog, ’cause I’m ready to fire it up!  But I need company, a guide, a role model to help me really appreciate the season and help me on my way… let’s see…

Name: The Abominable Snowman

Description: Unpleasant monster

Strengths: Fluffy, misunderstood, disproportionate in all ways, redeemed by Yuletide spirit

Weaknesses:  Borderline retardation, awkward at parties, too close to how I’ll look at age 50

No, that isn’t going to work.  What about…

Name: Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer

Description: Pleasant monster

Strengths: Plucky, determined, bio-lumincent

Weaknesses:  Ill-practiced at reindeer games, likely still under copyright, invokes painful memories of being a social pariah in my youth

Huh.  This is tougher than I thought!  I need someone less popular, but more in line with my thinking…

Name: Yukon Cornelius

Description: Possible monster

Strengths: Scallywag, Canadian, clearly alcoholic

Weaknesses:  Avaricious, mint obsession, nicer beard than I could ever grow

Ohhh, we’re getting close now, I can feel it!  We need someone monstrous, greedy, mischievous but also determined and ultimately shown to be a good guy by the Christmas season.  There’s only one person who’s going to help me find my first Holiday beer!

My boy, Ebeneezer Scrooge!

Yes!  Just the right person to enjoy this month’s Brewsdays with me!  Who else could help me to enjoy Yuletide spirit(s) more than someone who was so incredibly awful that his dead ex-partner conjured three soul-chilling, time-traveling spectres to terrify him into being less of a jerk?

I can’t think of anyone.

Ebeneezer, anything you’d like to say before we get started?

Sir!  You mis-read my intentions!  I appear before you now to do that which my good friend, and former partner in business, Jacob Marley, damned as he is in eternity and helpless now and forever deter the sins of man, did for me! Turn back now from that course which threatens you for all–

Fantastic!  I can’t wait to get started either!

In honor of my guest host for this month, I thought we’d take a look at beer from one of my Brewsday-Favorite brewers, Wychwood.  Responsible for the tasty, Hallowe’en-themed Hobgoblin, Wychwood has produced Bah Humbug as their Christmas offering — though the fact that it’s conspicuously absent from their website makes me wonder perhaps if this is either a very, very new product, or a year-old one.  In other words, is this a delicious find?  Or did I just sink twelve bucks into a six-pack of organic remainders?

Happily, I don’t think I care.  It’s that good.

Bah Humbug Christmas Ale follows the pattern of Wychwood’s other products, marketed in Ontario through their half-liter dark glass bottles.  I can attest that the packaging has heft enough to survive, for example, falling through the bottom of the cardboard six-pack provided by the liquor store and onto the snowy train tracks.  When you can be as clumsy as I am and still get it home intact, then you know you’re dealing with a company that really, really wants you to drink their beer.  The labelling is up to Wychwood’s previous standard, a colorful green-and-red motif surrounding a vision of Scrooge haunted by his demons over his right shoulder and his spirits over his left.

Because labels make a good beer, right?  In Bah Humbug’s case, they do.  It looks Christmasy enough without being cloying, and the images are always creepily detailed in a way that lets you feel subversive if you want to.  It’s fun to buy…

Indeed sir, and now you have the spirit of it indeed, I daresay, in that when you are free with your coin you are free with your soul to finally celebrate life in the way that Christ intended–

…and I recommend you do, before anyone else can get their hands on any.

He’s overcome.

Bah Humbug promises an ale complimented by tones of dried fruits, spiced lightly with cinnamon and rich in finish.  It pours out as a darker red, with a decent amount of head to it but nowhere near as fizzy as lighter ales.  You won’t have a hard time drinking this quickly, it’s that gently carbonated, but you won’t want to — the flavor is nice and full on the first sip, and sits on the tongue a little bit like a stout might.  At 5%, it’s a reasonably strong beer, but you never catch an alcohol taste from it.  You’re far too busy actually savoring it, and in that more than anything Bah Humbug really succeeds:  It’s meant to be the beer you take slowly on a Christmas night, and Bah Humbug makes it very easy to do.

At $3.40 for 500 mL, you’ll have a hard time finding a better value for a tasty organic beer on the liquor store shelves.  Bah Humbug is the kind of brew you can easily pull out at a dinner to serve to open-minded guests, to bring with you to Christmas parties as both a conversation piece and your contribution to BYOB, or to simply pull out and sip as a reward for finally untangling the freaking Christmas lights.  Bah Humbug is nicely package, pretty when poured and smooth through drinking.  It’s definitely worth the hunt, and well worth hoarding.

Any final words, Ebeneezer?

Another fortnight and a half in your godforsaken company, you say?  Pass me one of those… no, not the Steeler Lager!  The Humbug!  Hum-bug I say!

Rating:  5 out of 5 Ebeneezers

  • Kristie

    Egg the nog? Rum the egg, I think you mean. Anyway, that abominable snowman is so friggin’ cute I think he should get his own beer. Any interest in brewing it?

    Since you rarely lead me astray, I’ll try to find this beer in my crazy US grocery store and see how it goes. Nothing gets me in the Christmas spirit like a little Bah-Humbuggery.

  • Mike

    It’s definitely worth it. You won’t find it radically different from Hobgoblin, just a little more stouty and hearty, but with the added benefit of having a scowling, shitty old man staring out from the label.

    If nothing else, it allows you to have your own private little rebellion from all the Yuletide cheer. Perfect at Forced Fun parties you didn’t really want to be at.

  • Nanco

    I tried to subscribe to the blog and got a long page of script and some error message. Thought I’d pass that on.
    Will you write about Cloud No 9? From their website:
    “Breaking News – Cloud No.9 Spirits wins a ‘Commercial Ready Plus’ grant valued at $75,000 from the Commonwealth Government Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research to further develop the Vodka Liqueur and premium ready to drink ranges.” Sounds like they haven’t been told it tastes like canned tomato soup!

  • Tina

    I. Loved. This. Beer.

    I’m not a Christmas hater, but I do tend to get rather stressed out this time of year. With no time to myself, less money than I wish I had, a long list of people to buy for, crazy malls, cranky drivers, trite musical medleys…the list goes on. But you know what would make me feel better at the end of a day of Christmas shopping and gift wrapping? A big ol’ bottle of this, that’s what.

    I loved that this beer wasn’t overdone. It was a nice rich stout, just pleasantly slightly-spiced, and so full of Yuletide cheer that I am almost tempted not to fill myself with rage when I see that they’re already playing Christmas movies on TV.

    FULLY ENDORSED!! That’s what I say.

    Kirstie – Bah Humbuggery indeed! I would make some joke about this being a ‘family website’, but we all know better.

    Nanco – Was I the only person who LIKED Cloud No.9? I thought it tasted like pomegranate juice….. As for the feed, well, over to Mike on that one…..

  • Nanco

    Cloud No. 9 – I didn’t think it tasted like tomato soup (while Mike did, but that didn’t seem to stop him from drinking it). Its opalescence (is this #$*% nail polish?!) did make me hesitate before trying it.
    We couldn’t have hated it that much if we were all slurping it straight from the bottle. Maybe drinking it while trying to keep up with the licks and riffs of Rock Band frustrated us… As I recall, you were cooking us a delicious Moroccan feast and only got to have a few pulls.

  • Mike

    Nanco, you ought to know that “flavor” isn’t going to stand in my way very often when it comes to liquor.

    Come to think of it, that sentence is probably on a doctor’s office poster somewhere underneathing a header reading, WARNING SIGNS, but hey. We all have our pecadillos.

    That said, now I’m totally going to write about this. It’s going to cost me another forty bucks, but I consider that well worth it.

    Tina baby, get ready for a headache on Friday morning! YEEE HAWWWWWW!

  • MousE

    I’ve been scrolling thru your posts for the past 15 minutes, and laughing so hard I scared the housemates.


    Now I’m going to go buy some Wychwood beers.