“Every year since 1975 the brewers at Anchor have brewed a distinctive and unique Christmas Ale, which is available from early November to mid-January. The Ale’s recipe is different every year—as is the tree on the label—but the intent with which we offer it remains the same: joy and celebration of the newness of life.”
Anchor Our Special Ale 2010
Winter Warmer, 5.5% ABV
Sayeth the Guys:
Karl: You may recall that when we were doing our Christmas In July series of semi-cellared tastings, I said this about the Anchor entry to the Christmas beer landscape: “I specifically remember enjoying the Anchor a lot. I’d even give the Xmas the edge in terms of my favorite Anchor brew.” And then I went on to not like that ‘09 very much at all.
Thus, I was a little hesitant to dive back in headfirst when this year’s Anchor Xmas came out a few weeks ago. Would my opinions be brutalized once again? Would my Christmas dreams be shattered and all my expectations destroyed? Would Santa Beer come down this chimney, or leave me a pile of microbrewed coal? (And is there any Christmas metaphor I won’t rake over the coals?)
Answer: Sorta. It depends. Kinda.
My first Anchor of the year was everything I always wanted it to be. Hearty, hale, robust, like a nice scarf, one that goes in your neck instead of around it. Flavors of roast and rum and fruit and spice and everything good about a winter beer. Everything was there. I had reason to revive my hope in the Anchor Xmas offering.
Since then, what I’ve noticed is that every Anchor Xmas I’ve had since then has been varied or different in some way. The most recent anchor on tap was fully flavorful but lighter in body, almost watery but not quite. Other Anchor Xmases have been slightly blander, or lacking some part of the flavor, and otherwise just never seeming like the same beer.
My mind wandered back to how dramatically this beer had dropped off in flavor and body in just 6 months of cellaring. Could this beer actually fade away so quickly that the difference of a few weeks affects it? Could this really be a week-after-thanksgiving beer instead of a true winter warmer? I don’t know. I do know that when this beer is on, it is on. It’s still one of my shining beacons of winter warmer goodness – as long as I get the right one, apparently.