Thirsty Dog Brewing Co. of Akron, Ohio, produces many fine products, including 12 Dogs of Christmas, their entry into the Christmas beer marketplace. According to the label, 12 Dogs is brewed with honey, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg… like many other Christmas ales.
It pours a clear coppery color with a thick tan head made of very coarse bubbles that lasts around a minute.
The aroma is malty and spicy.
The flavor has a strong malt character, with prominent nutmeg and ginger elements. When colder, it tends to be a slightly sweet beer with some bitterness coming from the nutmeg and ginger. (I’ve seen beers do ginger and nutmeg so that they don’t contribute a bitterness or sourness, but this isn’t one.) Hops takes a back seat in this one.
I’m sure that many readers will disagree with me on this, but I think 12 Dogs of Christmas is a better Christmas ale than the much sought-after Great Lakes Christmas Ale. It also tends to be much easier to get. Don’t get me wrong. I like Great Lakes Christmas Ale and I’ll happily drink it, but given the choice between that beer and this one, I’ll take 12 Dogs of Christmas every time. And I’ll take The Brew Kettle’s Winter Warmer over both.
Beer Advocate readers give 12 Dogs of Christmas an 89 or “very good” rating with over 375 people weighing in, and The Bros give it 92 or “outstanding”. Rate Beer is tougher on it, giving it a 78 overall. It’s a solid 8 for me, though the draft version (which I find to sometimes be a bit smoother than the bottled one) leaning in 8.5 territory.
Sweet, Malty, Dry, or Bitter: Malty
Spice Level: Medium
Hops Level: Low
Dominant Flavors: Malt, ginger, nutmeg
My Rating: 8/10