Sunday, December 26, 2010

Special Ale 2010 (Anchor Christmas Ale)

Special Ale 2010 (Anchor Christmas Ale)

Brewed by:
Anchor Brewing Company
San Francisco, California, USA

Winter Warmer

5.50% ABV

Commercial Description:
This is our special ale from the brewers at Anchor. It is sold only from early November to mid-January. The Ale’s recipe is different every year, but the intent with which we offer it remains the same: joy and celebration of the newness of life. Since ancient times, trees have symbolized the winter solstice when the earth, with its seasons appears born anew. Editor’s Note: due to the significant similarity in style and strength from year to year (despite potential differences in the exact spice blend), this beer is no longer separated by vintage.

General Pricing:
12oz bottle, ~$10.00 6pack, ~$40.00 case

This is going to be the Christmas keg this year so I figured I better review a bottle before hand. I make it a point to have this beer every year. It is always just a little different each year but it is always good. I have had several changes to have this years vintage but I have passed it up to give this review. So let’s see how good this years Christmas ale is.

The beer pours a clear dark brown with deep ruby hues and an off white head. This also seems highly carbonated with tiny bubbles rising up from the bottom of the glass. This is very dark I can barely see the bubbles.

The nose is exquisite with dark roasted malt aromas along with dark fruit, floral hops and notes of Christmas spices. These aromas are outstanding I just hope it taste as good as it smells.

Wow, Christmas in a Glass. This is another great year for anchor. Just Amazing!

The taste starts out with sweet dark malts up front then a very interesting effervescence over the tongue in mid-sip. There is just a hint of malt flavors though the middle of the sip but the effervescence masks and prevents them from building. There is also an additional carbonation release during the swallow that also masks the flavors on the back-end as well. There is an unusual anticipation and you start to question if this beer is going to have any real flavor and then it hits just at the end of the swallow into the finish. And it is amazing. Everything that was hinted at on the nose comes alive in the finish of this beer. Sweet dark roasted malt flavors with dark fruit esters, a wonderful floral hop flavor and finally the most wonderful flavors of Christmas spices, notes of cinnamon, and nutmeg. The final aftertaste has some lingering dark roasted malts but it is mostly those wonderful Christmas spices that stay with you to the next sip.

The second sip was just as good as the first but I know what was awaiting my palette after the swallow.

Wow, and to think I have a sixtal of this for our Christmas party. Gee I kind of wish no one shows up so I can nurse it over the holidays.

I can’t wait to see how this beer opens up as it warms a little.  

We are now at 60 degrees.

The head has completely dissipated along with the bubbles rising from the bottom.

The beer is much smoother without all the carbonation. The malt flavors and the spicy notes are both more pronounced now. Man this is a good beer.

I’m going for an A on this one. This beer truly is Christmas in a glass. The rich dark roasted malt flavors along with an incredible blend of Christmas spices make this a most enjoyable Winter Warmer.

Merry Christmas!

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