ANCHOR CHRISTMAS ALE (2009)

NOTES: Draft @ J. Clyde in Birmingham

STYLE: Winter Warmer

ABV: 5.5%

APPEARANCE: Extremely dark chestnut…nearly black.

HEAD: Wispy, tan head that melts faster than snow in Alabama.

LACING: Sticky, sparkling lace.

NOSE: If you want to experience the “right” way to do a Winter Warmer, look no further than the closest bottle of Anchor Christmas Ale (also called, “Our Special Ale”). The nose is dark-roasted, very nutty malt with a hint of pine needles and a bracing dash of nutmeg, clove and cinnamon. It doesn’t smell like a spice rack exploded in the beer…it’s just a hint o’ the holidays in a wonderfully rich, dark ale. Mmm…

TASTE: Sweet caramel malts, vanilla, and  fresh-baked dark bread up front, a touch of hop bitterness and fruitiness in the middle, and refreshing, almost “cooling” (think licorice and ginger) spice in the finish. Very complex, but never overpowering or cloying.

DRINKABILITY: Around the holidays? This is as drinkable as it gets. In the dog days of summer? Yeah, not so much. Such is life as a Winter Warmer.

RATING: 3.5 Hops for one of the best in an oft-maligned style. Anchor changes the recipe for the Christmas Ale every year and while some are better than others, I’ve never had a bad one.  I certainly can’t remember every specific characteristic from each year’s version, but I think the 2009 might be my favorite. Delicious, complex, and full of holiday cheer. A perfect Winter Warmer.

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One comment

  1. I’m not sure why, but I only like the Christmas Ale if it has a couple of years on it. My package store usually has about 5 vintages on hand and I’m always impressed with the complexities that come out after 2-3 years in the bottle. Regardless, as far as Christmas beers go, this is one of the best.

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