Beer: Anchor Our Special Ale
Brewery: Anchor Brewing Company (San Francisco, CA)
Type: Winter Warmer
Hope everyone out there had a wonderful, safe, and beer-filled Christmas! I played host this year, as we usually do, and despite the craziness of the month before, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were relatively relaxing, giving us lots of time to try out some new board games and sample some Christmas brews. Because of a lot of last minute bartending shifts, and the general business of Christmastime, I didn't quite get the Beermas Countdown finished by Christmas Eve as I had foolishly anticipated, but we're going to carry on nevertheless. After all, the season is hardly over! Technically, the Twelve Days of Christmas actually begins on December the 25th (lasting until the 6th of January, when it in some places it is traditionally the time of taking down the tree), and Yule is still in full swing for a bit. Moreover, I've never been a fan of 'ending' Christmas on Christmas Day; all that hard work and preparation gone by in a mighty rush. I've always enjoyed the calm of Boxing Day and the week following Christmas; there's leftovers in the fridge, presents to play around with, and more time to enjoy all the goodies you've spent so much time preparing. So Happy Boxing Day everyone, and let's get started!
Another classic holiday ale today that, like the Redhook Winterhook, is a changing recipe and so the year in which you purchase and enjoy Anchor Our Special Ale makes a difference. Not only does the beer's composition change from year to year, but so does the tree on the label; although the tree will always be of the Christmas variety, this year's batch features a lovely California White Fir. Unfortunately, the website declares that the recipe remains top secret from the public, and so there's little to go on except ones own sense of taste and smell. Let's get to it.
I cracked this brew open on the 24th just before a large ham and potatoes dinner. Pours a deep caramel brown colour into a short tasting glass. Half an inch of mocha head that recedes into a thick ring with lots of lace.
Nose is most certainly Christmassy - big malt, toffee, chocolate, and loads of spices, including ginger, allspice and cinnamon. I'm also getting a decent hit of evergreen boughs as well.
Very tasty Christmas ale that tends to emphasize spices over the malt. So far this season we've seen a pretty good mix of the two, with the British style going for the richness of the malt, and with this one resembling mulled wine in its spice composition. Spruce and cinnamon are the heaviest hitters for me, with nutmeg and toffee coming in the background.
Certainly an enjoyable beer to be had around this time of year. Spices get a great chance to show off, and the brew has a sufficient malty base to provide some nice heft. Definitely will pick up a few more of these in the coming years to see how the recipe changes!