North Coast Brewing Company in Fort Bragg, California. This is a beer that I've had for each of the past few years, starting with 2009, and yep, you guessed it, continuing with 2010. It's been a terrific beer each time I've tried it, and somewhere around this place I even have a few bottles in a box from past vintages. The label is similar to past years, but 2011 got an updated look and is signed by Brewmaster Mark Ruedrich.
I made a big point to name the years because I was recently called out on Mike Loves Beer's Airing of Grievances for the recent Festivus holiday. Apparently I've been doing better but am still repeating too many beers/reviews for Mike's taste. Anyway, even Mike I'm sure is OK with beers like this one in an annual repeat. Or maybe not.
Sweet caramel aroma with soft fruit, light pine bitterness and some sticky, boozy accents. Rich caramel flavors in the beginning yield to a nice rum-soaked raisin and plum deliciousness. Sugary sweet with vanilla and brown sugar, great flavors.
Now your 11.9% alcohol is warming and apparent, even to the point of a light burn. But the way it accentuates a little spiciness in the beer and the way it cuts down the sweetness is really terrific! Carbonation is good. Great big body is wonderful and not syrupy at all. Smooth and excellent. I totally recommend grabbing this beer!