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Rahr & Sons’ Angry Santa Is Essentially A Super Spicy Gingerbread Cookie In The Form Of A Beer. But We Aren’t Sure Old Saint Nick Would Finish It.

This week I sipped on Angry Santa from Rahr & Sons Brewing Co.

Fast Facts about Angry Santa
Style: Winter Seasonal.
ABV: 8%
International Bitterness Units (IBUs): No IBUs.
Color: Garnet.
Availability: Seasonal – Draught and Cans.

Overview
Rahr & Sons is the oldest craft brewery in North Texas, having opened its doors in the Near Southside neighborhood of Fort Worth in 2004. In the 15-plus years since, the brewery has won awards all over the world over for its beer, and in the process, set a high bar for the North Texas breweries that have followed.

Rahr offers a diverse selection of beers throughout the year but may have the most emphasis on fall and winter style beers of any brewery in the Metroplex. In the fall it offers an award-winning Oktoberfest and a Pumpkin Ale. As the calendar moves toward Christmas and New Year’s every year, Rahr follows up with a traditional Winter Warmer, Bourbon Barrell Aged Winter Warmer and Angry Santa.

Background on Winter Seasonal
Winter Seasonal is a subcategory of the larger Spiced Beer category, and is considered a Specialty beer. Specialty beers are created by transforming a Classic beer style through the addition of ingredients outside the norm for beer or by using some alternative process to create the beer. With this in mind, it is necessary to consider the Classic or base beer style used when evaluating a Specialty beer.

Winter Seasonal beers are typically stronger ales, darker in color, and feature the required use of spices, often those traditionally associated with winter or Christmas – think allspice, ginger, cinnamon and cloves. Fermentable adjuncts like molasses, brown sugar and honey are also often used in conjunction with malted barley to add interesting flavors while raising the alcohol level. Whatever the brewer chooses to use, a harmonious balance between base beer and spicing is necessary and should produce an inviting brew made perfect for cold nights with good friends.

Appearance
Angry Santa pours a lustrous mahogany color and is brilliantly clear. The head is fabulous — off-white in color and tall and firm in the glass with excellent retention. As it recedes, it leaves a light, delicate lacing inside the glass. This is the picture-perfect winter seasonal brew.

Aroma
You expect spiced scents from a winter seasonal but Angry Santa is nearly a sucker punch in this regard — reaching out of the glass to land a hard combination on the nose worthy of a championship prize fighter. With heavy doses of ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg, this brew doesn’t smell so much like a beer as it does a well-used kitchen at Christmas producing all your favorite cookies.

Flavor
Angry Santa is a super-spicy gingerbread cookie in a liquid form. There is a great malt backbone that offers up a base flavor of bread before all spice all the time. The malt – along with some honey – offers up a faint, sweet counter to heavy spicing but honestly, you have to look for it a bit.

Mouthfeel
Angry Santa is a full-bodied beer with a medium-plus carbonation level. For the most part it is velvety smooth, with only a few rough edges from the heavy spicing. Rahr says this is a no IBU beer, and the complete lack of bitterness on the palate agrees with that assessment. The abundant spiciness clings to your mouth, giving this beer a long finish.

Pairing
The spice mix in Angry Santa is largely used for baking in the U.S., most often for holiday delights like breads, cookies and cakes, so it is no surprise that any of them would pair well with it. Other cultures, however, often use these same spices as part and parcel of everyday cooking. With that in mind, chicken curry with cinnamon and ginger should play well with Angry Santa, having the intensity to stand up to the beer, complimentary spicing and heat to offset the honey sweetness. Mediterranean, Moroccan and Spanish cuisine all use these spices as well, and thus should be considered as possible matches. Closer to home and in keeping with the holiday season, you might also consider Prime Rib or glazed ham as fun table companions for Angry Santa.

Overall Impression
I’m split on Angry Santa. On the positive side, I love the beautiful visual it gives me, especially with the longer lasting foam stand and the bit of lacing in the glass. The aromas are also just as divine. It also feels good in my mouth — it’s a comfy beer, reminding me of childhood holidays on the farm with friends and family. I want to snuggle up with it in front of the fire on a cold winter night.

On the negative side, it’s somewhat heavy handed in the spice column. I know this same aggressive use of spicing gives me the aroma I raved about above but it’s just about all I can taste when I take a swallow, and it really hangs on at the end. All of this makes it hard to find the underlying base style of Angry Santa, and it obscures the honey notes more than I’d like. In short, I find it a bit unbalanced.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy Angry Santa, but due to the in-your-face ginger and cinnamon in this beer, it’s very much a one-and-done kind of beer for me. And by the time I reach the bottom of my pint glass, I’m kind of ready for it to be gone.

Score
On a scale of 1 to 10, I give Rahr & Sons’ Angry Santa a 6.

Previous On Tap Reviews:

• Revolver’s Sangre y Miel: 10.
Lakewood Brewing’s Salted Caramel Temptress: 10.
• Peticolas’ Royal Scandal: 10.
• Community’s Mosaic IPA: 10.
• Deep Ellum Brewing Company’s Freak Flag: 10.
• Peticolas’ Velvet Hammer: 10.
• Collective Brewing Project’s Boysenbarrel: 10.
• Community’s Barrel-Aged Legion: 10.
• Community’s Legion: 10.
• Martin House River Horse: 9.75.
• BrainDead’s Fill in the Blancs: 9.5.
• Oak Highlands’ Freaky Deaky: 9.5.
• 903 Brewers’ Birthday Sasquatch: 9.5.
• TUPPS Brewery’s Full Grown Scallywag: 9.5.
• On Rotation’s Flocculation of Seagulls: 9.5.
• Braindead Brewing’s P-Wing: 9.5.
• Lakewood Brewing Company’s Coconut Temptress: 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.
• Collective Brewing Project’s SMaSHY: 9.25
• BrainDead Brewing’s Galactic Federation of Might: 9.25
• On Rotation’s Lingonberry Sahti: 9.25.
• Martin House Brewing Company’s The Morrigan: 9.25.
• On Rotation’s Jalapeno Saison: 9.
• Woodcreek’s Bourbon Barrel Bock: 9.
• Braindead Brewing Company’s Dr. Dreipricot: 9.
• Lakewood’s Wild Manimal: 9.
• Manhattan Project Beer Company’s Necessary Evil: 9.
• Revolver’s Blood & Honey: 9.
• Funky Picnic’s Funny Accent: 9.
• Martin House’s Imperial Texan: 9.
• Division Brewing’s Smokin’ Jack-o’s: 9.
• Wild Acre’s Mondlift: 9.
• Community’s Trinity Tripel: 9.
• Peticolas’ Irish Goodbye: 9.
• Four Corners’ Block Party Porter: 9.
• Bankhead Brewing Co.’s Giggle Water: 9.
• Cedar Creek’s Belgian Dubbel: 9.
• Manhattan Project’s Wise Monkeys: 9.
• Cedar Creek’s Poblano Paradise: 8.75.
• Rahr & Sons Brewing Company’s Oktoberfest: 8.75.
• Lakewood Brewing Company IPA: 8.75.
• Small Brewpub’s Black Pepper Pils: 8.5.
• Peticolas’ Ghost Of Alfred Brown: 8.5.
• Deep Ellum’s Easy Peasy IPA: 8.5.
• Community Beer Company’s Passiflora: 8.5.
• Deep Ellum’s Oak Cliff Coffee Ale: 8.5.
• Community Beer Company’s Wit ‘N Wild: 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.
• Rahr & Sons Brewing Company’s Winter Warmer: 8.25.
• Noble Rey Brewing’s Barampus: 8.25.
• Martin House’s Possum Kingdom Pilsner: 8.25.
• Community Beer Company’s Brett’s Get It On: 8.25.
• Bankhead Brewing Company’s Aoogah!: 8.25.
• Lakewood’s Peach Artsy Tarsty: 8.25.
• Peticolas Brewing Company’s Clandestine: 8.
• Lakewood Brewing Grand Allowance: 8.
• HopFusion Ale Works’ Hairpin: 8
• Peticolas’ Golden Opportunity: 8
• Three Nations’ Devout (Mexican Chocolate): 8
• Collective Brewing Project’s Cup O’ Sumpin Raspberry Lemonade: 8.
• Texas Ale Project’s Smash Experiment: 8.
• Armadillo Ale Works’ Greenbelt Farmhouse Ale: 8.
• Cedar Creek Brewery’s Gone A-Rye: 8.
• Community’s Texas Helles: 8.
• On Rotation’s Moar Blackberry: 8.
• Franconia’s Silver Star Bock: 8
• Rahr & Sons Brewing Company’s Paleta de Mango: 8.
• Peticolas Brewing Company’s Doctor’s Orders: 8.
• Hop & Sting Brewing Company’s Galactic Haze: 8.
• Lakewood’s Thread Spinner: 8.
• Bishop Cider Co.’s Sour Cherry: 8.
• Texas Ale Project 50 Ft. Jackrabbit: 8.
• Cedar Creek Brewery’s Gone A-Rye: 8.
• Pegasus City Brewing’ Nine Volt: 8.
• Texas Ale Project’s Payne Pils: 8.
• Noble Rey’s Bridesmaid’s Tears: 8.
• Collective Brewing’s Urban Funk House: 8.
• Pegasus City Brewery’s Cannoneer: 8.
• Pegasus City Brewery’s Sixth Floor: 8.
• Lakewood’s All 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.
• New Main Brewing’s Thundersnow: 8.
• Martin House’s Day Break: 8.
• Deep Ellum’s GOURDzilla: 8.
• Peticolas’ The Duke (Aged 12 Months): 8.
• Deep Ellum’s Neato Bandito: 8.
• Revolver’s Bock: 8.
• 903 Brewers’ Sasquatch: 8.
• Peticolas’ Wintervention: 8.
• Division Brewing’s Distant Cousin: 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.
• Pegasus City Brewery’s The Woofus: 7.75
• Four Corners Brewing Company Homie Brew: 7.75.
• Community Beer Company’s Snickerdoodle: 7.75.
• Pegasus City Brewery’s High Point: 7.75.
• Cedar Creek’s Grapefruit Haze: 7.75.
• Martin House Brewing’s Big Hoppa: 7.75.
• TUPPS Full Grown Man: 7.75.
• 3 Nations American Wit: 7.75.
• Armadillo Ale Works’ Dapper Apple: 7.75.
• 903 Brewers’ Kilt Switch: 7.5.
• Chimera Dirty Dog: 7.5.
• 3 Nations Brewing Company’s Imperial Milk Stout: 7.5.
• Legal Draft’s Accused Amber Lager: 7.5.
• Grapevine’s Reserve Tart Cherry Berliner Weisse: 7.5.
• Martin House’s Stars Above: 7.5.
• Noble Rey Brewing Company’s Frooty Tang: 7.5.
• Martin House Brewing’s Pretzel Stout: 7.5.
• Grapevine’s Prickly Pear Wheat Ale: 7.5.
• Texas Ale Project’s Good To Go: 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.
• Cedar Creek Brewery Clover Kicker: 7.25.
• Noble Rey Sex In A Canoe: 7.25.
• Legal Draft Beer Company Free & Clear: 7.25.
• Oak Highlands Brewery’s Oktoberfest.: 7.25.
• Noble Rey’s European Vacation: 7
• Unlawful Assembly’s Public Dissent: 7.
• Deep Ellum Rye Pils: 7.
• Union Bear’s Amber Red Ale: 7.
• Turning Point Beer’s Silent Treatment: 7.
• Wild Acre Brewing Company’s Ranch Style: 7.
• 3 Nations Mango SMASH IPA: 7.
• Legal Draft Chief Justice Stout: 7.
• Legal Draft’s Black Letter Law: 7.
• Noble Rey Brewing Company’s Mother Night: 7.
• TUPPS Brewery’s Imperial Saison: 7.
• Manhattan Project’s Plutonium-239: 7.
• Panther Island Brewing’s Sweet Fang: 7.
• Backcountry’s Texas IPA: 7.
• Backcountry’s Double IPA: 7.
• Wild Acre Brewing Company’s Billy Jenkins: 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.
• Three Nations Brewing Co.’s Texas Gold Chili Lime: 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.
• Texas Ale Project’s Hawaiian Roadrunner: 6.75.
• Whistle Post’s Shoofly Coconut Lime Ale: 6.75.
• Community Brewing Company’s Silly Gose: 6.75
• HopFusion Ale Works’ Feisty Blonde: 6.75
• Martin House’s Queen of the Mist (Prickly Pear): 6.75.
• Armadillo Ale Works Land Yacht IPA: 6.5
• Three Nations Texas Xmas Hazelnut Ale: 6.5.
• 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.
• Four Corners’ Celebración: 6.5.
• Peticolas’ Operation Collaboration: 6.5.
• Rahr & Sons Brewing Company’s Pumpkin Ale: 6.5.
• Grapevine Craft Brewery’s Nightwatch: 6.5.
• Peticolas’ The Duke: 6.5.
• Deep Ellum’s Double Brown Stout : 6.5.
• Cedar Creek’s Maui Wowie: 6.25.
• On Rotation’s Mexican Barleywine: 6.25.
• Thirsty Bro Brewing Co.’s Sweet Cherry Blonde: 6
• On Rotation’s Darjeeling Tea Session Ale: 6.
• Wild Acre’s Tarantula Hawk: 6.
• Martin House’s Kafkaesque: 6.
• TUPPS’ Cotton Mill Gold: 6.
• Brutal Beerworks’ Mother Heffer: 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
• Cobra Brewing Company’s Dawn of the Dank: 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.
• Martin House’s Best Maid Sour Pickle Beer: 5.
• Woodcreek’s Lakeside Cerveza: 5.
• Legal Draft Beer Company’s Smash & Grab IPA: 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.
• TUPPS’ Day Off: 4.75.
• 3 Nations’ Lady Luck Horchata Ale: 4.5.
• 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.
• TUPPS’ Cotton Candy Shandy: 4.
• Good Neighbor Brews’ Slim Sweetness: 3.
• Good Neighbor Brews’ O’Carrol’s Irish Red: 3.
• Twin Peaks’ Dirty Blonde: 3.
• Franconia Wheat: 3.
• 903 Brewers’ Mythical Creatures: 2.5.
• Miller Lite: 1

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