For the First Beer of Christmas,
Anchor Brewing gave to us,
Their 36th holiday ale!
Anchor Brewing Company has a reputation for brewing great beers, with
Anchor Steam being the flagship of this nautical themed company. I’ve
had plenty of Anchor Steams, but never ventured into their other
offerings until now. Not for any particular reason, though. I just
never got around to them. But after drinking tonight’s beer, I’m going
to have to give some of their others a try … and before next year’s
Twelve Beers of Christmas.
While pouring it into the glass, two things struck me. First was the
rich aroma. It reminded of my childhood when we kept a real Christmas
tree in the house and my grandmother mulled spices in apple cider. It
was so strong at first that I thought the taste might be overwhelming.
But the smell mellowed quickly to a comfortable and inviting aroma.
The second thing was the gorgeously dark color. I do love a deep
brown, yet translucent, color in a beer. Held up to the light, the beer
reminded me of a deep mahogany dining table that we used to own. It
was a beautiful table and this is a beautiful beer. When poured, the
head frothed up into a light caramel color.
The taste matched the aroma. Sweet and smokey. Spicy (holiday
spicy, not jalapeno spicy) and crisp. And an hoppy twang to end each
drink. Given the deep color, I expected a heavier beer, but I really
enjoyed the lighter than expected feel. That strong a flavor mixed with
a sweet, heavy beer would have been more than I wanted. But the
Christmas Ale’s medium body was a good match for the strong flavor and
intense hoppiness. (Is that a word? Spell check doesn’t like it.)
Overall, a nice change a pace that I think the Christmas-in-a-bottle
feel would be a great addition to any holiday gathering. It’s certainly
not my favorite beer of all time, or even in the top 10, but it’s a
nice beer that murmurs “Merry Christmas” while you drink it.
Aubrey says, “It’s smokey.”
Brewer: Anchor Brewing Company
Location: San Francisco, CA
Style: Winter Warmer
Alcohol Content: 5.5% ABV
Interesting Note: This is the 36th Christmas Ale from Anchor Brewing.
Each year, they customize the bottle by featuring a different tree on
the label. This year’s tree is the Ginkgo biloba tree. For a look back
at past labels, check out http://www.anchorbrewing.com/beers/pdfs/Flyer_ChristmasAle2010.pdf.