Going by the book is not something consumers expect of modern craft brewers, but in a way the Rabbit Hole Brewing Co. of Justin, Texas is doing exactly that. Except that the book in question doesn’t have anything to do with style guidelines or rules governing what you can or can’t do when it comes to craft beer. Instead, it has to do with molding the brewery’s image around a novel written by Lewis Carroll known as Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

Knowing this, it should come as no surprise to learn that the brewery has done something quirky and, of course, crafty to celebrate its first anniversary, while adding a twist to a particular tradition of the holiday season. As the King of Hearts suggests on the label of Rabbit Hole’s newest creation, leave the champagne behind, for now you can ring in the New Year with a glass of Hole Lang Syne.

Rabbit Hole Brewing Hole Lang Syne bottle

Brewed especially for end-of-year celebrations, Hole Lang Syne has been released on draft and in 750ml bottles. It’s the first product out of the brewery to be packaged and sold at retail, being limited in that respect to 608 hand-numbered bottles – an amount, oh mavens of the curious, that was chosen to match the number in the brewery’s address.

As for what’s on the inside, Hole Lang Syne is an amber-colored brew with rosy hues, brisk carbonation and an aroma built upon infusions of raspberries and blackberries. A scent of perfume seems to permeate the fruit, at least at first, evolving somewhat to being not unlike that of freshly-picked flower petals.

Rabbit Hole Brewing Hole Lang Syne

In terms of taste, the fruit is a bit more forward, lingering along with an underlying sweetness and hint of spice throughout. Malt flavors are soft and supportive, something typical of a Belgian Golden Strong Ale which forms Hole Lang Syne’s foundation. The beer has a mild tartness, which comes about on the back end as it finishes with a dry palate, slight bitterness and a persistent alcohol warmth. The latter being the result of a 10-percent ABV, which falls in on the high end of what is typical for the style.1 While clearly noticeable, the boozy tone is smooth and well-rounded as opposed to being hot or solventy, and is therefore right in line with established guidelines.

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Rabbit Hole Brewing Hole Lang Syne
BREWERY: Rabbit Hole Brewing Co.
LOCATION: Justin, Texas
STYLE: Belgian golden strong ale
ABV: 10 percent
IBU: 32
PRICE: n/a
RELEASE DATE: December 2014
AVAILABLE IN: 750ml bottles
BEERS POURED: Three
Fans of fruit beers will find a lot to like here, though I'll admit my personal preference would be for the sweetness to stand down a bit more. Nevertheless, should you choose to forego the traditional champagne toast at midnight on New Year's Eve, Hole Lang Syne offers something warm, fruity and no less effervescent than the standard bubbly.
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