Since this is my first review I thought I'd start off with some caveats. My sense of smell isn't that great and my palette isn't as educated as my fellow writers so from me you'll get discussions about the really special beers I have been fortunate enough to get in my hometown of San Diego and elsewhere, in terms far simpler than the hardcore beer geeks can put it. With that out of the way, to the beer!
My home away from home, O'Brien's pub, had some Lost Abbey beers on tap around the holidays. I've got a 2007 bottle aging at home but I took the opportunity to finally drink it since it was on tap that day. Semi-related, I got to meet Tomme Arthur, a very nice guy for being such a genius, a couple weeks later at a special Lost Abbey night at the same place. I told him I really enjoyed his beers and his reply was "yeah, you look like you do"...I'm still not quite sure how to take that.
This year's Gift of the Magi is a deep amber color (Tending towards golden to compliment the frankincense and myrrh) with very little carbonation; there's almost no head on it. The smell was very sweet, reminiscent of apple juice. As for the taste...wow, I now know what myrrh tastes like. Bitter, but not packing anywhere near the punch of a lot of our other local brews. It's also a little resiny, which is to be expected given the ingredients. This beer, if it were a book, would be like Pynchon or Faulkner as opposed to Dan Brown or John Grisham. It's not something you grab for fun, like a Red Trolley or a Leine. You pick it up, sit back and take it in slowly while trying to not let the complexity overwhelm you. When you're finished, you're left with the feeling that you've been challenged and you've bettered yourself for having gone through the experience but you're not whooping it up and looking around for another to chug. It's a very contemplative beer that I respect and is definitely a great special occasion beer, I'm very much looking forward to finding out how time changes the bottle I've got on reserve for a special occasion.