“12 Beers of Christmas” Review: Thirsty Dog 12 Dogs of Christmas Ale

In Beer Reviews by Ryan

Thirsty Dog says:

“Spiced for the holidays with honey, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and Santa’s secret recipe.”

Thirsty Dog 12 Dogs of Christmas Ale
Winter Warmer, 8.3% ABV

Three weeks ago I never had a desire to try this beer. In fact, I had never seen this on shelves before – at least not in Chicago.  I had seen Thirsty Dog’s beers at the beer stores I visit in Michigan but never thought twice about picking one up or sampling one of their offerings. It wasn’t until I had a brief chat on twitter that piqued my interest about this winter warmer. Apparently there is a debate raging amongst Clevelandites, Clevelandvilians, Clevelanders…people in Cleveland over which is better; 12 Dogs or Great Lakes Christmas.  Knowing my love and adoration for Great Lakes Christmas Ale I had to track down 12 Dogs to see how it stacked up.  Last week while in Michigan for work I had a chance to sample Great Lakes Christmas Ale on tap and found – after an extensive search – a lonely bottle of 12 Dogs of Christmas.

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The front label reads, “Brewed with honey and spices.” It sounds similar to GL Christmas from that description alone.  But, I should give this a fair opportunity and not compare it directly.  So I won’t.

The 12 Dogs pours a deep and dark copper in color with, maybe, a pinky finger’s worth of off-white head.  The nose gives off very robust aromas of cinnamon, ginger, allspice and nutmeg.  It’s just like opening a fresh tin of homemade Christmas cookies.  Take a sip and you get strong flavors of ginger and cinnamon up front followed by a bit of graham cracker.  The ginger forces its way back in to the finish along with a bit of maltiness or nuttiness.  Whichever it is, it’s pretty subtle.

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Now, I know I sad a few sentences ago that I would not compare it to Great Lakes Christmas Ale – but the two are very similar.  There is a little “something” to the 12 Dogs that sets it apart, though.  I’m not sure if that’s the nuttiness that I picked up on or not – but there was something different to it.

Overall this was a fantastic beer and a great winter warmer.  Consider myself schooled on another great beer coming out of Ohio.  This will be on my short list to pick up next winter seeing as how I grabbed, what appears to be, the last bottle in the greater Lansing, Michigan area.

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About the Author



Equal parts beer nerd and policy geek, Ryan is now the curator of the Guys Drinking Beer cellar. The skills he once used to dig through the annals of state government as a political reporter are now put to use offering unique takes on barrel-aged stouts, years-old barleywines and 10 + year verticals.

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