Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Anchor Steam's Christmas Ale

Brewing Company: Anchor Steam
Style: Winter Seasonal
Size: 12 fl oz. or 50.7 oz MAGNUMS
ABV: 5.50%

After a several week layoff, we're back for more holiday reviews. Thanks to my cousin for kicking things off with a great review on Brooklyn Brewery's Black Chocolate Stout. I hope that these reviews reach all of our loyal readers (all 6 of you), in time before these holiday varieties are taken off the shelf. While I'm admittedly partial to Oktoberfests, there are some exceptional flavors out there that MOST people wouldn't know about! In the past month or so, I've gotten people to try darker beers that normally they wouldn't have even thought twice about. "Oh, I don't really like dark beer." Ah, ah, ah... just try it. And while yes there are those people that do not like certain kinds of beer, several of them came back with, "Hey you know, I could definitely drink that. Wow... That's really good!" So for those of you that are daring... or curious about a few holiday micros... pull up a chair and listen in. This could be exactly what you are looking for at the end of the day to enjoy by the fire. And strangely enough, most of these pair very well with leftover holiday cookies. :)

So needless to say, nothing says Merry Christmas and Happy New Year like the Merry Christmas and Happy New Year Ale from Anchor Steam (Christmas Ale for short). These brewers are relentless, changing the recipe (and label design) EVERY year. More spice, less spice, more hops, less hops... I was introduced to this beer last year while I helped my friends Ian and Emily cut down their Christmas tree at Jones Tree Farm in Monroe, CT. This year's variety certainly did not disappoint. The beer appears very dark during the pour, but comes across as surprisingly lighter than one might expect. The head on the beer has a chocolate/coffee tint to it (definitely pour this into a glass for optimum enjoyment!). The nose has a total holiday feel to it with essence of nutmeg and other spices. One would expect a strong taste after smelling this concoction, but the flavors come across as the perfect balance of spice, coffee, and nuttiness... with a lighter malty finish. One reviewer noted that the taste has a roasted pecan and date/fig flavor to it with hints of apple, cinnamon, and juniper.

My brother-in-law was nice enough to buy the family a magnum of the Christmas Ale to enjoy after our Thanksgiving meal up in New Hampshire. I would highly recommend having one following a nice meal. And it's worth pointing out that at only 5.50%, this brew is very drinkable; without knocking you over.


So from all of us at Beer411 to all of you... Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, and have a wonderful New Year in 2010!!

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