Here I hold one of the most intriguing and illusive collaboration ales of 2009 with a mere 20 cases making their way to my state of Minnesota. This bottle was brewed and bottled in Norway at the inventive brewery of NÃ¸gne Ã˜ with the help of the wild brewers of Jolly Pumpkin and always intense Stone Brewing Company. While I was unable to sample this ale last year when the first batch was brewed at Stone I am very pleased to have the opportunity to sample this the 2nd time around. Most of the unique ingredients used in this brew are local to the regions of the three breweries including Michigan chestnuts, white sage from Southern California, and Norwegian juniper berries. Both Stone and Jolly Pumpkin also brewed this ale on their setups this year but I do not believe either will make it into my local market unfortunately. However if you live near California or Michigan you might be lucky enough to find some. On to the good part. This ale pours a very opaque dark brown hue that appears black until you bring it to light. A relatively tight light brown 3 finger head is slowly created but quickly opens up and fades with in about 3 minutes leaving only a small ring of carbonation around the surface of the ale. Aroma is quite interesting with a herbal spirit like quality that i believe is coming from the juniper berries and somewhat reminds me of a gin but with different esters. A modest amount of alcohol is noticeable as well as gentle roasted notes. Flavor is very unique with strong herbal notes of sage, caraway and juniper easily showing their way through the solid malt profile of this ale. Finishing with a delicate nuttiness and a bit of alcohol. The combination of malted barley, rye and oats delivers a wonderfully clean and smooth mouthfeel but frankly I wish I could taste them a bit more over all of the herbal notes present in this ale. Clocking in at 8.5% ABV this is certainly a winter warmer and an easy one to drink at that with a relatively light body for the style. Over all this is a rather sweet herbal ale with very little bitterness present but enough roasted esters to give it a bit of contrasting flavor. An interesting and creative ale with a multitude of ingredients that certainly shows the skill and creativity of the brewers. If I manage to stumble upon a bottle brewed by Jolly Pumpkin I would be very curious to see what some aging in their lovely funky oak barrels might do to this recipe. While I am still in search of a Holiday Ale I particularly love I will give this ale plenty of credit for potential. If you are a fan of herbal holiday ales and dig juniper berries this might just be the ale for you, if you can find it. Give it a shot and ride your bike.