Go Nuts For Three Nations’ Texas Xmas.

Welcome to On Tap! Each week in this recurring feature, we’ll take an in-depth look at one of the many beers now available in the suddenly crowded North Texas brew scene. The goal here is to look at these area beers without our local goggles on and to wonder aloud, “Is this beer good or do I just like it because it’s local?” Should be a fun experiment, no? Cheers to that!

This week, we sipped on Three Nations’ Texas Xmas Hazelnut Ale.
Fast Facts on Three Nations Texas Xmas Hazelnut Ale.

Style: Sweet Stout.
ABV: 8.3 Percent.
International Bitterness Units (IBUs):Not available.
Color: Black.
Availability: Limited release.

Overview.
I’m full-swing in to holiday mode at this point, so a beer described with lots of adjectives won’t keep me down. Besides, those adjectives represent more flavors to enjoy! With the holidays right around the bend, why not take a nose dive in to a delicious flavor-addition beer?

Last week, I reviewed The Manhattan Project’s coconut porter and I cannot help myself but do a similar-but-different beer this week. On somewhat rare occasions, Three Nations releases a beer that’s not on its listing of flagship offerings. And that’s what is going on here with Texas Xmas. I think.  Anyways, on with the review.

Background on Sweet Stout.
The sweet stout style is a top-fermented ale that showcases big flavors. BJCP guidelines use the word coffee at least three times in the description of this style. Often times (as we have here with Texas Xmas) the beer contains a lactose addition that helps up the residual sweetness and thus, helps raise the amount of body in the finished product. How, you ask? Well, a lot of types of sugars are fermentable, but lactose is one of those that is not. So the yeast goes and gobbles up a ton of the other sugary stuff in wort, but it passes over the lactose and it remains in the finished beer. Hop profiles in sweet stouts are very low; the hop profile is at most a background element. The range for the sweet stout style is from 4 to 6 percent. I feel like I need to note that Texas Xmas sort of straddles the boundary between sweet stout and imperial stout. But because of the lactose addition and serious coffee situation going on with this beer, let’s call it an imperial sweet stout. As in, a higher-alcohol version of a sweet stout.

Appearance.
Texas Xmas pours very dark brown in to the glass. But let’s not split hairs and just go ahead and call this a black beer. A thin layer of foam remains for a bit, but there’s nothing amazing going on here. That’s OK, though, because sometimes a beer with a lot of flavor additions like this one results in diminished foam.

Aroma.
Texas Xmas has a lot going on in the aroma department. If you’re looking for a standard sort of stout drinking experience, this certainly is not it. For me, the aroma starts with a round sweet milk chocolate sense. Then a roasted coffee sense hits me, like a coffee with roasted peanut flavor. I think perhaps it’s a tell of my lower tax bracket, or maybe I just like peanuts. Either way, I’m wrong, because that’s the hazelnut shining through.

Flavor.
The thrust of the flavor mimics the aroma. I get tons and tons of chocolate on this beer, along with a longtime-lingering nutty sensation. After a few sips, I feel my tongue coating, warming to this cuddly holiday party for one. I’m not going to say that the flavor is unbalanced in this beer, but I will say that the choco-coffee-nut situation is intense.Mouthfeel.
The mouthfeel is excellent on Texas Xmas. I get that there is lactose in this beer. And with the beer’s 8.3 percent ABV, the residual sugar teams up with the flavor additions to make this a rather deceptively smooth drinking experience. The carbonation is a bit lower than I am used to, but this trait is within guidelines for the sweet stout style.

Overall Impression.
I like holiday beer. I like Texas Xmas. I cannot say that I’m blown away by it, but Texas Xmas is good and the keg is draining quickly tonight here at Lakewood Growler. I appreciate the use of hazelnuts, as we don’t see the addition too often in DFW. Like other high-ish ABV holiday offerings, this is a one-beer beer for me. It’s a lot of aroma and flavor to get through. Three Nations should brew this again, but keep this beer as a holiday-time offering – keep it special.

Score.
On a scale of 1 to 10, I’d give Three Nations Texas Xmas Hazelnut Ale a 6.5. What’s happening in the area brew scene?
Thursday, December 22. Holiday Pop-Up Beer Dinner w/ SMOKE at Taps & Caps.
Friday, December 23. Beers Before Christmas at Community Beer Co.
Saturday, December 31. Five-Year Anniversary at Peticolas Brewing Co.
Saturday, December 31. One-Year Anniversary at Division Brewing.
Sunday, January 29. Girl Scout Cookies & Beer Pairing Flight at L.U.C.K.
Saturday, March 11. Tater Tots and Beer Festival at Fair Park.
Friday, March 31-April 2. Big Texas Beer Fest at Fair Park.

Previous On Tap Reviews:
Revolver’s Sangre y Miel: 10.
Peticolas’ Royal Scandal: 10.
Community’s Mosaic IPA: 10.
Peticolas’ Velvet Hammer: 10.
Community’s Barrel-Aged Legion: 10.
Community’s Legion: 10.
BrainDead’s Fill in the Blancs: 9.5.
Oak Highlands’ Freaky Deaky: 9.5.
Deep Ellum’s Barrel Aged Four Swords: 9.5.
Lakewood’s Saint Dymphna: 9.5.
Peticolas’ Lost Epic: 9.5.
Community’s Ascension Porter: 9.5.
Lakewood’s Temptress: 9.5.
Lakewood’s Goatman: 9.5.
Community’s Public Ale: 9.5.
Peticolas’ Thrilla in Brazilla: 9.5.
• On Rotation’s Lingonberry Sahti: 9.25.
On Rotation’s Jalapeno Saison: 9.
Woodcreek’s Bourbon Barrel Bock: 9.
Lakewood’s Wild Manimal: 9.
Revolver’s Blood & Honey: 9.
Martin House’s Imperial Texan: 9.
Community’s Trinity Tripel: 9.
Peticolas’ Irish Goodbye: 9.
Four Corners’ Block Party Porter: 9.
Cedar Creek’s Belgian Dubbel: 9.
Small Brewpub’s Black Pepper Pils: 8.5.
Peticolas’ Ghost Of Alfred Brown: 8.5.
Deep Ellum’s Easy Peasy IPA: 8.5.
Deep Ellum’s Oak Cliff Coffee Ale: 8.5.
Lakewood’s Rock Ryder: 8.5.
Rahr’s Bourbon Barrel Aged Winter Warmer: 8.5.
Lakewood’s Raspberry Temptress: 8.5.
• Peticolas’ Prime Minister: 8.25.
Lakewood’s Thread Spinner: 8.
Texas Ale Project 50 Ft. Jackrabbit: 8.
Texas Ale Project’s Payne Pils: 8.
Noble Rey’s Bridesmaid’s Tears: 8.
Collective Brewing’s Urban Funk House: 8.
Lakewood’s On Call: 8.
Oak Highlands’ Golden Mustache: 8.
903 Brewers’ Crackin’ Up: 8.
Deep Ellum’s Play Date: 8.
Rahr & Sons Brewing Company’s 11th Anniversary Russian Imperial Stout: 8.
Bitter Sisters’ Belgian Tripel: 8.
Noble Rey’s SteamPunk: 8.
903 Brewers’ Citra On Top: 8.
Bitter Sisters’ Hissy Fit: 8.
BrainDead’s Gritz: 8.
Community’s Barrel-Aged Inspiration : 8.
Cedar Creek’s Fisticuffs: 8.
Lakewood’s Punkel: 8.
Four Corners’ El Chingon IPA: 8.
Martin House’s Day Break: 8.
Deep Ellum’s GOURDzilla: 8.
Peticolas’ The Duke (Aged 12 Months): 8.
Deep Ellum’s Pale Ale: 8.
Revolver’s Bock: 8.
903 Brewers’ Sasquatch: 8.
Peticolas’ Wintervention: 8.
Armadillo Ale Works’ Brunch Money: 8.
Martin House’s Salsa Verde: 8.
Cedar Creek’s Spinning Mule Robust Porter: 8.
Lakewood’s Holiday Bonus: 8.
Lakewood’s Hop Trapp: 8.
3 Nations American Wit: 7.75.
Armadillo Ale Works’ Dapper Apple: 7.75.
Legal Draft’s Accused Amber Lager: 7.5.
Grapevine’s Reserve Tart Cherry Berliner Weisse: 7.5.
Martin House’s Stars Above: 7.5.
Grapevine’s Prickly Pear Wheat Ale: 7.5.
Bitter Sisters’ Knock Out: 7.5.
Four Corners’ Notorious O.A.T.: 7.5.
Noble Rey Golden Rey With Raspberries and Ginger: 7.5.
On Rotation Saved By The Belma: 7.5.
True Vine’s Unicorn’s Revenge: 7.5.
Deep Ellum’s Hop Seeker: 7.5.
Four Corners’ El Super Bee: 7.5.
Lakewood’s Hopochondria: 7.5.
Three Nations GPA: 7.5.
Martin House’s Rubberneck Red: 7.5.
Lakewood’s Antigoon’s Revenge: 7.5.
Community’s Texas Pils: 7.5.
Lakewood’s Zomer Pils: 7.5.
Cedar Creek’s Dankosaurus: 7.5.
Oak Highlands Brewery’s Oktoberfest.: 7.25.
Manhattan Project’s Plutonium-239: 7.
Backcountry’s Texas IPA: 7.
Backcountry’s Double IPA: 7.
Rahr’s Visionary: 7.
Shannon Brewing’s Irish Cream Ale: 7.
Oak Highlands’ Guava Good: 7.
TUPPS Brewery’ Northbound 75: 7.
Rahr & Sons’ Iron Joe: 7.
BrainDead’s I Like Harvey IPA: 7.
Martin House’s Turtle Power: 7.
Collective’s Petite Golden Sour: 7.
Shannon’s Chocolate Stout: 7.
BrainDead’s Red Ale: 7.
Community’s Razzy Raspberry Witbier: 7.
Martin House’s Gateway Blonde Ale: 7.
Bearded Eel’s Purple Unicorn: 7.
Noble Rey’s Off The Leash: 7.
Shannon Brewing Company’s Irish Red: 7.
Texas Ale Project’s Somethin’ Shady: 7.
Deep Ellum IPA: 7.
Cedar Creek’s The Lawn Ranger: 7.
Martin House Brewing Company’s Cellarman’s Reserve IPA (Amarillo).: 7.
Lakewood’s Till & Toil: 7.
903 Brewers’ The Chosen One: 7.
903 Brewers’ Sugar On Top: 7.
Martin House’s Gateway XPA: 7.
Armadillo Ale Work’s Quakertown Stout: 7.
Revolver’s High Brass: 7.
Community’s Pale Ale: 7.
Oak Highlands’ Chump Change: 7.
Martin House’s River House: 7.
Grapevine Craft Brewery’s Sir William’s Brown Ale: 7.
Community’s Funnel Cake Ale: 7.
Audacity’s Boss Raptor IPA: 7.
Martin House’s Queen of the Mist (Prickly Pear): 6.75.
Martin House’s The Juice: 6.5.
Collective Brewing Project’s Mom Azacca: 6.5.
Four Corners’ La Lechuza: 6.5.
Revolver’s Ironhead IPA: 6.5.
903 Brewers’ Trot Line: 6.5.
Peticolas’ Operation Collaboration: 6.5.
Grapevine Craft Brewery’s Nightwatch: 6.5.
Peticolas’ The Duke: 6.5.
Deep Ellum’s Double Brown Stout : 6.5.
Wild Acre’s Tarantula Hawk: 6.
Martin House’s Kafkaesque: 6.
TUPPS’ Cotton Mill Gold: 6.
Rabbit Hole’s Tweedleyum: 6.
Rabbit Hole’s Off With Your Red: 6.
Cedar Creek’s Elliott’s Phoned Home Pale Ale: 6
Grapevine Craft Brewery’s Lakefire: 6
Armadillo Ale Works’ WunderMelon: 6
Deep Ellum Pale Ale: 6
Lakewood’s Troll Toll: 5.5.
Martin House’s Hell Below: 5.5.
Lakewood’s La Dame Du Lac: 5.5.
Woodcreek’s Lakeside Cerveza: 5.
Martin House Cuvee Pumpkin Latte: 5.
Intrinsic’s Crunktoberfest: 5.
Martin House’s Mind On My Money: 5.
903 Brewers’ The Land Of Milk And Honey: 5.
Deep Ellum’s Numb Comfort: 5.
Four Bullets’ Black Jack Brown: 4.5.
Audacity’s Checkered Past: 4.
Four Corners Heart O’ Texas: 4.
Audacity’s Sunset Boulevard: 4.
Shannon Brewing Company’s IPA: 4.
Grapevine’s Monarch: 4.
Twin Peaks’ Dirty Blonde: 3.
Franconia Wheat: 3.
Miller Lite: 1.

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