Hoppy Holidaze
Marin Brewing Company

Hoppy HolidazeHoppy Holidaze
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Winter Warmer
Ranked #236
Ranked #41,673
3.57 | pDev: 13.45%
Marin Brewing Company
California, United States
Hoppy HolidazeHoppy Holidaze
Notes: Our traditional Christmas Ale, brewed with Pale, Wheat, Caramalt and Munich malts, and hopped with Sterling and Styrian Goldings varieties. Delicately spiced with canela, nutmeg, mace, orange peel and pure vanilla extract.
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Reviews: 81 | Ratings: 109
Reviews by RootedFool:
Photo of RootedFool
4.1/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22 ounce bottle (2004 release) purchased at the North Coast Co-op in Arcata, California.

Huge, cloud-white and whipped-creamy head on the pour into my Duvel tulip glass. The body is light, slightly translucent amber.


Bright waft of candied orange rinds, a big scoop of vanilla ice cream, and a fairly generous floral wad of hops. Toward the finish a touch of pleasant yeast mustiness comes through to help balance out the sweetness.


Opens with a deep thrust of orange rind bitterness which elevates into a positively cracklin' hop kick right down the center of my palate. The middle has hints of vanilla bean, fresh cherries, glazed donuts, nutmeg; there's a lot going on. Maybe too much. But, damn, it is festive! The finish is a tart twist of citrus rind and brief alcohol warmth in my throat. A little dry on the finish, but just slightly.


Plenty carbonated. Maybe a little thin in the body, but really nothing to complain about.

Like I said, there's a lot going on here, but it's not in disarray -- it's nicely balanced for what it is.

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More User Reviews:
Photo of BeerAdvocate
3.33/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Beer review from BA Mag Nov 2007.

The winter warmer is yet another style to be revived by American brewers. Every year a new artist is showcased on the label; this year is L. Gruger from Seattle, WA. [lgruger.com]

The dark crystal malt used gives the beer a deep mahogany color, that has excellent clarity when put up to the light. Multi-sized, tan-bubbled lacing is promising even after a few sips, with patch rings left over on the glass. Soft aromas of dried plums, raisins, brown sugar and a spicy mix of hops and faintly warming estery alcohols suggest a holiday spice cake to the nose. Tiny bubbles roll around the palate with a creamy smoothness that opens up the malt character. Huge caramel note with an orbiting toasted grain that circles closer and closer. Hops offer a solid balanced bitterness with a minty, floral citric flavor. A tad fruity middle to end with a slow and modest warming alcohol. Finishes on the sweet side with a long path of toasted grain and hop flavor.

A bit too drinkable for its size and alcohol, flavors are perfectly balanced and small spikes of complexity everywhere. We can imagine a plate of warm, spiced molasses cookies to pair with this beer.

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Photo of Mark
3.46/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

I love Marin Brewing Co. beers and this is a well made ale. I just don't think it's my style. Looked like a lager which was a bit surprising as I expected something darker. Very spicy aroma, which I gave high points for thinking of the style. Taste was dominated by nutmeg. moutfeel was good and rounded. This really is a well made ale, just not for me. Suzanne liked it a whole lot better.

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Photo of beerguy101
4.06/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Medium gold/copper color. Small head. Aroma is fruity, mango and apricot, A medium bodied Christmas ale. Brewed with Pale, wheat, caramel, and Munich malts. Hopped with Magnum and Styrian golding varieties. Spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg, mace, orange peel and vanilla extract. That said this ale has a slightly sweet maltyness. Hops are evident but not overpowering. There is a definite fruitiness and spiciness to this beer. Orange, grapefruit and nutmeg and cinnamon. The vanilla is not very evident. Smooth taste. Kind of warming. Mouthfeel is full and round. Finish is clean and smooth/ Aftertaste is slightly bitter, Not much of an alcohol bite at 7.5%. Etched/Painted beer bottle.

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Photo of Bighuge
3.65/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Murky looking orange. Thin off white head. Lace comes in moderate amounts. On the nose: Dough, bread, lemon zest cinamon and citric orange. Solid. First impression on tasting is fleshy orange, apricots and melons. Then I get some of that wheat and bready munich malt stuff. Forms a solid enough base. A little sourdough, though I'm not quite sure where the sour is coming from in looking at this recipe. Some spice with cinamon. Body is full. Carbonaton seems to be appropriate...middle of the road. Decent enough stuff here, but nothing I'll be clamoring for again.

Thanks Darren.

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Photo of mickeymac
4.12/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Lucky Baldwin's, it pours a nice looking golden-orange with a sticky, foamy white head that just leaves a mess all over the glass. The smell is an intriguing mix of tropical flowers, cinnamon, fruity hard-candy, and hops. The smell is really astounding. The taste is very nice also, but becomes a bit too sweet after it sits a while. The mouthfeel and nice drinkability add to an enjoyable experience.

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Photo of htomsirveaux
3.32/5  rDev -7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

22 oz. bottle tried 7 Jan 2009.

Poured in 0.5 L Adambrau becker. Medium white head. Well carbonated. Clear bright copper color. Aroma is light, reminiscent of bananas, rum and brown sugar. Starts sweet and cinnamony with some nutmeg and caramel. Like a spicy christmas cookie. Some hoppy bitterness at the finish. Light body. Ethanol shows up late.

Overall a decent Christmas beer.

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Photo of mzwolinski
2.68/5  rDev -24.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

2004 Edition
Lighter in color than a lot of xmas beers; very hazy autumnal orange, with a very thin head that’s almost just a halo.

Aroma is a bit sharp – orange comes through strong with some hoppiness, but wihtout enough underneath it to balance.

Really interesting first sip. very sugary tasting, especially so in the aftertaste which is way too dominated by the vanilla. Too much orange in the midpalate. Cinnamon makes itself known after that. Very artificial tasting. All one can taste is the adjuncts – it’s like there’s no malt, no hops, no beer there at all.

Malt comes through a little bit as it warms, but vanilla is still too much.

Better and better as the beer warms or my palate acclimates, but still quite unsatisfying in the end.

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Photo of TheLongBeachBum
3.7/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

*2003 Edition*

Presentation: A 22 fluid ounce brown glass Bomber with a yellow ink screen-printed label, which still has the generic Marin Brewing Co. style. Labeled as “Hoppy Holidaze Flavored Ale – 2003”, and listed as Alcohol 7.0% by Volume.

Appearance: Beautiful deep amber-golden body with a peach hue when back-lit. Perfectly clear, it only has the odd streamer to break the monotony. Big head forms during the pour at first, a very smooth looking dirty white color, it slowly settles to a thin ¼” covering, whilst all the time leaving some nice sheet like lacing.

Nose: Deeply fruity. Malts at the start with glazed oranges, satsuma’s, tangerines and a sweet mango like odor in the back third. Not much in the middle. Light hints of Vanilla Beans.

Taste: Malty start with some nice sweet orange fruits and cinnamon to pep the tongue in the middle. Deeply fruity finish that remains sweet with a hint of vanilla alcohol for backbone. Did I miss the hops?? Strange, I kept getting a weird light ginger taste in the back-end of the beer, would that be the mace or maybe the vanilla I wonder?

Mouthfeel: Pretty solid beer, the smooth carbonation lends a velvety feel at times. Decent texture in the mouth but once swallowed it leaves a sticky orange residue that can be a bit sickly after a while.

Drinkability: A nice beer to accompany a Sunday afternoon Movie, but not one to drink throughout the afternoon, its too sticky for that.

Overall: Labeled as “This is made with Pale, Wheat, Caramalt and Munich Malts, and hopped with Magnum and Styrian Golding varieties. Delicately spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg, mace, orange peel and pure vanilla extract”.

Quite a mix – very spicy, lots of orange and some malt – but I think I missed the hops??? Maybe I wasn’t paying enough attention. It’s good but a little sticky and sickly sweet at times for me - a bit more hops would have been welcome to balance out the spices and make this great rather than just good. Still nice though.

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Photo of Dmann
4.57/5  rDev +28%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A great seasonal from Marin and a unique one as well. The beer poured a hazy peach color with a very nice white head that rested atop the beer the whole time. The smell was wonderfull with a huge wiff of vanilla and nutmeg. The flavor was very interesting but quite well done. There was not much in the way of hops, but the great blend of spices and Belgian yeast notes more than made up for it. The beer had a nice delecate sweetness to it but not overpowering. This is one of the best holliday brews I've had yet.

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Photo of ElGordo
2.69/5  rDev -24.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Pours a dark golden color topped by a small off-white head that quickly disappears. Carbonation is rather tepid. Aroma of nutmeg, cinammon, and other holiday spices, along with some light sweet malt and a hint of adjunct grain. Palate is overly sweet - very sweet malt with a touch of caramel, along with very assertive cinammon and nutmeg notes. Medium body is a decent vehicle for the abundance of overly sweet malt. Couldn't finish the bottle. Maybe it's just a personal dislike of sweet and spicy brews, but I didn't like this at all. Oh, and where the hell were the hops? If hoppy is in the name, I'd expect to at least be able to discern a whiff, but nope, not in this one.

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Photo of sulldaddy
3.82/5  rDev +7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

I am sampling a 22 oz bottle poured into a snifter at cellar temp.
The brew pours a clear copper hue with a fizzy off white head of 2 cm foaming up and receding quickly to a thin edge layer. No streams of carbonation rise to refresh the head.
Aroma is fruity and spicy with some caramel and cinnamon mixing with cloves and nutmeg and perhaps vanilla. Overall a sweet nose but not over done or imposing.

First sip reveals a lite body with very fine tingly yet spacious carbonation. Almost under carbonated and the texture is a little thin but so far so good.

Flavor is sweet through and through. Caramel and cinnamon intertwine and dominate but hints of nutmeg and cloves and some vanilla poke through. The beer is easy to drink and festive for sure. Not a bad beer, but it would be more fun with a little more body to it.

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Photo of Boilermaker88
4.07/5  rDev +14%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A 22oz bottle (2005 edition) purchased at the BevMo in Brea, CA. and poured into my Duvel glass.
Appearance: semi-clear rust color, a well-formed white head that took on a whipped egg white look, and a bit of webby lace.
Smell: lots of different spices in here; nutmeg at the top of the heap with cinnamon and vanilla bean also vying for attention. Citrusy with orange peel notes and a decent level of fresh floral hops tossed in.
Taste: candy sugar sweetness leads things off but is quickly overtaken by the flavors of nutmeg and cinnamon. Vanilla taste doesn't hold up against the other two and is suppressed. Orange peels and floral hops lend a nice balance to all that spice flavor.
Feel: medium-bodied heading toward the light side, well carbonated. Seems a tad thin.
Drinkability: pretty tasty and quickly quaffed. The nutmeg and cinnamon are a bit heavy-handed but overall Hoppy Holidaze is a well-crafted brew. Recommended.

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Photo of kmcnair
4/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Cloudy unfiltered light copper in color with a thin white head. Aromatics of biscuits, bread yeast, nutmeg, coriander, lemon, vanilla. Very similar flavors to that of the nose, very well spiced, vanilla is strong in the foreground, familiar chinook bittering character, light pine essence, lemon, banana. Medium palate, crisply carbonated, finishes light and moist. I had no idea what to expect from this brew and it is really interesting... worth trying.

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Photo of Gueuzedude
3.28/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

2006 release, Sampled December 2007
Very well carbonated as a careful pour produces a four-finger thick, light tan colored head that sits a top a brilliantly clear amber hued beer that is just filled with excessive carbonation bubbles. Aromas of spices dominate the nose; nutmeg is the most persistent, but a backdrop of cinnamon is also noticed. Not much else is noticeable in the aroma, though there is perhaps a touch of herbal hop character here.

Lightly sweet, yet with a sharpness that is a combination of spice notes as well as a slight sourness. Dusty nutmeg flavors and flavors of muted cinnamon turn a bit astringent and almost woody as one gets towards the finish. Fairly light, especially for a 7% alcohol beer, this would definitely be an easily quaffed beer if not for the excessive spice notes. Some fruit flavors are noticeable under the spices, with touches of apples and perhaps a hint of pear flavors. Hop flavors add some bitterness as well as some herbal notes that become muddled together with the more powerful spice notes.

This is not a bad beer, it is just not my cup of tea. Too spice dominated, even after a year of age.

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Photo of warmstorage
3.99/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

22 ounce bottle, states 7.0% ABV, and notes various awards including 2006 World Beer Championships, suggesting it's a 2006 winter brew.

Poured in a wide-mouthed wine glass, pours a bright orange with little white head, dissipates rapidly, leaves no lacing.

Aroma is sweet malt and spice.

Taste is all about the spice: hard to pin down, but cinnamon and nutmeg seem most likely. Perhaps allspice? Some hints at white pepper, and ripe peaches. I'm reasonably pleased with my guesses and that this beer shows the spices well, as the Marin website indicates the spicing as follows: "Spices include Nutmeg, Mace, Cinnamon, Vanilla and Orange Peel." Ms. Warmstorage thought it was a homebrewed tripel we made; her next guess was a quadrupel. Interesting. I'm not sure what to make of that, though I did know what it was I was tasting, and I always have her taste it 'blind' to avoid skewing the results.

Mouth is slightly tingly and somewhat thin, doesn't linger too long.

A very tasty spiced ale, and something I'll buy again. I'm rarely to never disappointed with Marin, and this is no exception.

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Photo of rkhaze
3.87/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2003 release. Pours a bright golden orange with a thin, creamy white head that dissapeared quickly. Not much lace. Spicy malty aroma with citrus and a bit of vanilla.
Tasted malty and bready with a corn syrup/caramel sweetness. Big flavors of orange/tangerine, some vanilla and nicely subdued
x-mas spices. Not much hop presence for something called Hoppy Holidaze. Almost a little cloying.
Medium body and rich mouthfeel. Good carbonation. A bit too sweet to be something I'd drink a lot of.

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Photo of lou91
3.97/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2004. The golden yellow color was nice to look at but the nose is what draws you in - definite nutmeg and vanilla with hints of clove and honey. The taste does not disappoint as the spices in the nose are present in a dry, mildly hoppy (despite its name) light ale. This beer is always consistent - almost to a fault. This is one beer that needs some expert advice to take it from a good beer to an excellent world class beer given its high quality ingredients.

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Photo of donnebaby
4.03/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I liked this beer alot, and was disappointed to only have one try. Light color, goldish with a creamy, sticky top. Breezy hops in the nose and some allspice.

Taste in the mouth is a moderate allspice, wheat kick and an excellent after chock full of bitter grains and hops. Wide-mouth crispness. Smooth, clean feel.

This came off for me like a spiced wheat brew, heavily on the side of allspice/pumpkin pie spices.

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Photo of WetCoaster
3.9/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

-2004 release

Appearance: Hmmm... it's, uh, copper peach, maybe? Apricot egg white, perhaps? Odd color. Good clarity and a small pure white head with little retention. Good lace and a collar throughout.

Smell: Whoa. "Delicately spiced," you say? I'd hate to see what aggressively spiced might be. You name it, it's in here. Vanilla comes on strong. Belgian yeast. Mixed bag of baking spices and a big orange presence. "Hoppy?" Not exactly. There are probably some hops and malt swimming around, but they're just buried under everything else here.

Taste/Mouthfeel: First, the mouthfeel is disappointing. Thin, but more damning, just dead. Carbonation is seriously underpowered here. The flavor, though, that's another story. Lots of orange peel up front, spicy, with a big blast of honey and vanilla. Finishes juicy and citrusy.

Drinkability: Pretty good, light, interesting flavor, nicely spiced. It took me a minute to figure this one out. Basically, I think what we're looking at here is a saison cross-bred with a cream soda, with some cake spice thrown in for good measure. It's odd, sure, but it's actually pretty good. Try it if you can find it.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.68/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Fluorescent tangerine peel with bright banana borders and an appealing light haziness. The creamy crown is the color of white chocolate fudge and looks good in contrast with the beer. Thick sheets of fine dotted lace are being deposited as the foam slowly melts.

For an ale with so many extra ingredients, this winter warmer doesn't smell overly bold or distinctive. Nor does it smell very hoppy, and this is an '08. Each sniff delivers sweetened citrus (mostly orange) and an indeterminate spiciness. Warming opens things up a little.

Hoppy Holidaze is a solid spiced ale that fails to stand out from the spiced ale crowd. There aren't any faults, per se, but it doesn't have much pizzazz either. Adding at least 50% more Sterling and/or Styrian Goldings hops would have given it a needed zing and would have lent some measure of truth to the name. As is, Moderately Happy Holidaze is a more appropriate moniker.

The lightly toasted malt backbone is nice and sturdy, with sweet staying ahead of bitter at all point along the flavor arc. The extra ingredients (nutmeg, mace, cinnamon, vanilla and orange peel) are relatively well-balanced, although nutmeg is beginning to assert itself as the beer gains a few degrees.

If you like well-spiced, pale malted winter warmers, the drinkability score is a 4.0. If you're ambivalent, subtract a half point. If you aren't a fan, subtract a full point. The mouthfeel is a highlight. It's a fraction more full than medium and has an impressive smoothness born of perfect carbonation.

Even though Hoppy Holidaze isn't the best thing since sliced bread, it's a well-brewed winter warmer that does what it's supposed to do. Note to Marin: delivering on the Hoppy will make future Holidaze much brighter.

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Photo of blitheringidiot
3.53/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Stylish chock full 'o info label 7.0% ABV Gold & Silver GABF Gold '90 & '91...Pale Wheat, Caramalt and Munich, hopped with Sterling and Styrian Goldings varieties. Delicately spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg, mace, orange peel and vanilla extract.

Golden auburn straw hues topped with a frothy craggy bubbly cap containing a few scant rising bubbles.

Light nose of mixed spices. Cinnamon and a raison aspects front the nose. A hint of honey and a floral bouquet ease out.

First swigs: Vanilla punch pops out instantly. Dry but not bitter oaky Earthy middle. Ginger and vanilla continue to offer flavor. Some orange soda aspects are palpable. A full spectrum of flavors pan out over the long haul. Lingering cherry.

Feel is dry with a cherry honeyish linger. Medium bodied. Short flavor lifeline.

Last swigs: Herbal vanilla cherry ale. End of story. Kudos for an interesting blend of flavors. This is Sam Adams Cherry Wheat with kick. Go back to sleep.

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Photo of Dukeofearl
3.5/5  rDev -2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

$4.99 at LaBodega in Riverside, CA. for a 22 oz Bomber. 2006 Version.

OK, I have been trying a lot of West Coast Hop beers lately- the Stones, the Alesmiths, etc. So when I saw "Hoppy Holidaze", I was expecting another west coast hop bomb. What a surprise when I found a beer of generally mellow malts with a sweet multi-flavored mix with no hops to be found. The label proclaims: "delicately spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg, mace, orange peel, and pure vanilla extract." OK, great- but what I taste is peach syrup. Vanilla. Some other winter spices that I can't identify. OK, I'm not so good at picking up subtle (or not so subtle) flavors.

Where are the hops??? Don't get me wrong, I am not a hop monkey like some I know- I like all different kinds. This one just surprised me from the complete lack thereof.

But the bottom line- do I like it? In a way, yes, I do. But it's one of those "a little goes a long way" kind of beers. Good taste, enjoyable for 8-12 ounces, but a 22 oz. bottle is just too much for me.

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Photo of Zorro
3.5/5  rDev -2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2004 version.

Pours a cloudy copper colored brew.

Smell is a sweet and sour combination like the scent of a sour mash whiskey. Fair amount of sugar in the smell along with malt and pickling spice scent.

Taste is sweet and malty with a sourness to it like cranberries or lemon. Fair amount of hop in this but it is hard to identify the exact spices in this. Mostly this is a sweet brew balanced by a good amount of hops to make it semi dry in flavor.

Mouthfeel is OK.

It is a drinkable brew but I expected more, their Starbrew is excellent this is just OK.

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Photo of IceAce
4.24/5  rDev +18.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from the tap into a one liter mug with a tan collar of foam and a hazy orange body. The foam quickly collapsed to form a razor-thin ¼ moon floating at the top of the mug.

Aroma is light-n-bright with Holiday spices...much like an apple pie fresh from Grandma's oven. Roasted apples, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla abound. The nutmeg takes the forefront on the initial taste, then yields to a cinnamon spiced malt midtaste. The finish closes with a spike of carbonation and the slow fade of Magnum and Golding hops.

Mouthfeel is superb with the vanilla extract providing just a hint of slickness. Despite the vast array of spices, drinkability is well above average. I'd love to pair this with a nice pastrami sandwhich loaded with a spicy brown mustard.


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Hoppy Holidaze from Marin Brewing Company
Beer rating: 82 out of 100 with 109 ratings