5 Rabbit Cerveceria is located in Bedford Park, Illinois. The brewers named it after a deity in Aztec mythology. Their beers embody flavors and elements from Latin culture. Ponche is a barleywine ale inspired by the Mexican "ponche" drink, a punch consumed during the Christmas season. It's brewed with muscat grapes, concord grapes, apple juice, orange peel, Mexican cinnamon, cassia buds, date syrup, and cloves.
Ponche pours a dark mahogany with virtually no head. That's not surprising, since high-alcohol beers tend not to be able to retain a head for very long, and this beer clocks in at 12% alcohol by volume.
The aroma is fruity with a touch of cinnamon. It's a very pleasing aroma and does bring to mind a Christmas punch.
The flavor is sweet, malty, and complex. I get grape, cinnamon, a hint of clove, and dark fruit. Although apple juice is included in the mix, I don't taste that. All in all, it's a delicious beer and I hope 5 Rabbit keeps making it.
I tried this particular beer at The Daily Growler in Upper Arlington when it was available last year. As of this writing, I'm not aware of anywhere that you can currently purchase it, which is unfortunate. This is a beer I would happily drink year-round, or add to my regular Christmas beer purchase rotation.
Rate Beer gave Ponche a 94 overall. Beer Advocate gives it an 87 or "very good" rating. I really liked it, and had a hard time deciding on a rating. In the end, I looked at other beers I'd rated an 8, 9, or 10 and compared this to them. The 9's and 10's were beers I enjoyed at least a little tiny bit more, so I decided to rate Ponche an 8 out of 10. But it's possible that this could easily move upward if and when I get to sample it again.
The 5 Rabbit web site doesn't list Ponche among its current products. Perhaps because they've discontinued it, or perhaps because they only list it when it's available seasonally. I wrote to them to ask about this, but haven't heard back yet.