Every year for Christmas, we give my dad a bag of pistachios. I don’t know how it started, but it’s become our version of the fruit cake. My mom will package the bag in a decorative tin, or sometimes an old iPad box, and just when he thinks he’s hitting the Yuletide jackpot, Papa Fagerberg is disappointed by yet another pound of jade nuts.
The pistachio is a niche nut. It’s the kind of flavor that can take over a dish. Outside of treats like Turkish delight and halva as well as certain Italian cookies, you don’t see it utilized as a showcase ingredient often. That’s why Indeed’s new seasonal Pistachio Cream Ale is so enticing. What an odd nut to introduce to the brew kettle.
But cream ales are exactly the kinds of beers that can stand to be overtaken every once in a while. Indeed’s base beer is incredibly smooth, with a malt shop creaminess. But it’s hard to imagine it as festive without the pistachios. The nuts take that silky palate and turn it into a playground. The beer pops like a crystal-clear liquid spumoni. Woody and slightly sweet, the pistachio comes in right at the front, only to be swallowed in a surge of vanilla sweetness.
Those Middle Eastern and Mediterranean desserts immediately come to mind, but without any of the cloying sweetness. It’s almost a shame that the beer isn’t full-on matcha green. It has the pistachio punch to warrant a Crayola hue, but this isn’t a gimmick. Indeed’s endgame is a restrained charmer.
Pistachio Cream Ale is not the only beer that makes use of pistachios. This flavor, though sometimes foreign, is totally at home in the context of a beer. That the Minneapolis/Milwaukee brewery thought to put it in a cream ale is a stroke of genius—every sip is like Christmas morning.