In mid November, Drake's Brewing Co., in San Leandro (CA), released its 2016 edition of their Jolly Rodger Ale, and I was lucky enough to be sent a sample bottle.
For over two decades, Drake’s has held to their tradition of brewing a totally new beer every year for Jolly Rodger. This year’s version --which should be available through January-- is described as a "Transatlantic Winter Warmer." It is made with the addition of dark candi sugar and a Belgian ale yeast, which account, I suppose for the "trans-Atlantic" part.
In the glass, the 2016 Jolly Rodger Ale is a lovely-looking beer. Dark copper-colored, almost red -thanks, to a great extent, I expect, to the candi sugar. The head is not long-lasting, but the beer is nicely carbonated, even effervescent upon first tasting.
It is malty, and spicy --not in a pumpkin pie-kind of way, but to my mind, more reminiscent of ginger bread or spice cake--- but not overpoweringly so. The Belgian yest character is evident right up front, as is the candi sugar, but in the background there are notes of dried fruits --maybe of dark cherries, maybe of prunes or raisins.
Both, in terms of flavor, and of alcohol (10% abv), it is indeed a warmer, but it is not a heavy beer. With how cold it is tonight, I'm indeed glad I decided to pop open the bottle..
Further stats: 31 IBU | 10.0% ABV | 21.0° Plato O.G. | 4.5° Plato F.G.