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San Diego Brewed is sponsored by Bottlecraft.

Bottlecraft is a retail shop and tasting room in Little Italy showcasing local, domestic and international craft beers. They offer hundreds of beers for your enjoyment in their onsite tasting room or to-go, as well as daily beer flights, events, glassware, merchandise, and gifts. Open Noon-10pm seven days a week. 2161 India Street, San Diego, CA 92101.

AleSmith Yule Smith (Winter)Let me preface this by saying (Imperial) Red ales aren’t my favorite style of beer. AleSmith’s Yule Smith (Winter) is an Imperial Red. AleSmith releases two different versions of Yule Smith, this one in the Fall/Winter and another in the Summer (Christmas in July!), and Imperial IPA. Winter and Summer aren’t used on either label, but the images on the label should make it obvious which is which. (So be careful if you’re picking up a bottle at a shop that isn’t good about selling through their beers, I’ve seen Summer Yule Smith on shelves well past it’s prime).

For a style of beer that isn’t my favorite, Yule Smith is pretty good.

The piney, citrus like hops are apparent as soon as you start to pour from the bottle to a glass. The initial taste is dominated more with sweet, caramel like malts than the hops. The hops come next, pine and grapefruit really stand up to the sweet malt to balance things out — balance might not be the right word. Technically the big hops balance out the big malt so neither dominates the flavor, but balance just doesn’t feel like the right word.

One thing that detracts from my enjoyment is the high alcohol. Yule Smith is 9.5% ABV, and doesn’t mask the booze at all. The alcohol is present throughout, fairly sweet and pretty hot.

For being so high in alcohol and so sweet Yule Smith does finish fairly dry, it’s not the driest beer you’ll ever have but the sweetness doesn’t stick around too long.