Strong Ale brewed with natural flavors. 7.1% ABV

Rail Slide Imperial Spiced Ale

Brewed by SanTan Brewing Co. of Chandler, AZ

Sample graciously provided by HDE Agency

I’ll start off my exploration of Christmas and winter seasonal beers with this fine example hailing from Arizona. You’ll note that it just so happens to come in a can. The craft can revolution has really hit its stride in the last few years. I have to admit to having my own doubts early on (guess I was a bit of a brown glass bottle snob there), but as I’ve had the chance to sample more beers from different breweries in cans, I can honestly say that I’ve not found any that tasted different from their bottled kin. I would also note I can be critical of spiced and flavored beers; I tend to prefer flavors that don’t overwhelm, but support the base beer. Keep that in mind as you read on, and if your preference diverges from mine, I hope you still find my review to be helpful.

Rail Slide pours out a deep reddish-brown hue with red-orange highlights, and is very clear. It has a very short-lived light beige head that leaves just a collar and sparse, thin foam islands.

I note aromas of cinnamon,  ginger, and something reminiscent of nutmeg and cloves over some deep caramel malt. Has a bit of a spice cake vibe going on.

Medium-full body with fine, effervescent carbonation and a slightly viscous texture. Rich and velvety mouthfeel.

Spices are evident up front but not overpowering, and follow the nose – cinnamon, ginger, something like nutmeg and cloves but not quite. These are backed by toasted and darkly caramel malt, almost going into some molasses notes. Gentle bittering is enough to balance with the spices; overall effect is not too sweet. No hop flavors evident, not that I expected any in a spiced ale. Some molasses-like tang towards the finish. Fades away with lingering spice notes and some toasted malt, and I get an almost wine-like aftertaste with mineral and tannic notes. Interesting.

No foam left on the glass.

Overall a good balance of flavors and nice use of spices. Very nice brew. (I later checked the brewery website, and they list cinnamon, ginger, and licorice as the spices.)

Rating: Aroma: 7/10   Appearance: 4/5   Taste: 8/10   Palate: 5/5   Overall: 16/20

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