Mikkeller - Santa's Little Helper (2013)
Mikkeller was founded by homebrewers Mikkel Bjergsø and Kristian Keller in 2006 in Copenhagen, Denmark, but Kristian exited the company in 2007. Mikkel is referred to as a gypsy brewer as he does not own a brewery, but instead uses the brewing and bottling facilities of various other breweries. Even though this seems like it would be a limitation for a brewer, Mikkel has apparently brewed over 600 different beers (according to their Wikipedia page). Mikkel's brother Jeppe is also a gypsy brewer who founded rival brewery Evil Twin Brewing in 2010.
After the disappointing non-Christmas Christmas Ale that was Beer Four, Santa's Little Helper gets us back on track. It's a Belgian Strong Ale that poured almost completely black with a fluffy tan head. Roasted malts, brown sugar and dark chocolate in the aroma with a hint of the alcohol hiding inside. Sweet caramel and roasted malt flavours up front with slight tastes of licorice and molasses coming out as the beer warms. A slightly bitter finish followed by a lingering flavour of roasted coffee and bitter chocolate. As the beer continued to warm, I also started to get a hint of cayenne pepper at the back of my tongue and throat. Perhaps that's the spices referred to by the "brewed with spices" on the label. The 10.9% ABV is a little noticeable with a gentle burn as it goes down providing a nice warming glow. I have another bottle of this that I think I'll age for a few years as I think it will probably mellow out the flavours and tone down the alcohol.