Monday, December 17, 2012

Beer of the Week (Vol. CLXIV)

Another better late than never edition of Beer of the Week sponsored as always by the generous folks at Glen Lake Wine & Spirits who can help find the wine, whiskey, and beer that would make the perfect gift for the discriminating drinker on your list.

Usually, I’m not one to get all worked up about the “war on Christmas” conversation that seems to have become an annual tradition to indulge in this time of year. Sure, I’m all about appreciating the real reason for the season and I detest attempts to pretend that all the activities going on now are about anything other than a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. But I’ve found it difficult to work up much of a lather because a store clerk says “happy holidays” instead of “merry Christmas.”

Now however, I am discovering a newfound appreciation for those who are unabashedly straightforward in celebrating Christmas. Maybe it because the holiday celebration at work this week is being called a “Winter Employee Appreciation Event” even though it’s being held a full two days before winter even officially begins. I’m tempted to ask the HR folks if we have December 24th and 25th off work to celebrate “winter” too.

So for the rest of the month instead of just featuring seasonal beers of winter, I’ll go with those with a Christmas connection in the name.

The first is from Anchor Brewing in San Francisco which has a long history of Christmas beers including this year’s 2012 Christmas Ale:

Each year since 1975, Anchor Brewing creates a distinctive Christmas Ale, available from early November to mid-January. A rich, dark spiced ale, our secret recipe is different every year—as is the tree on the label—but the intent 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. Our tree for 2012 is the Norfolk Island pine. Captain Cook discovered this South Seas isle and its native tree in 1774. These tropical-looking conifers, which thrive in sandy soil and coastal climes, were first planted in California in the 1850s. The Norfolk Island pine on this year’s label, hand drawn from life, resides in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park.

Each year our Christmas Ale gets a unique label and a unique recipe. Although our recipes must remain a secret, many save a few bottles from year to year. Properly refrigerated, the beer remains intriguing and drinkable for years. Different nuances emerge as the flavor mellows slightly, much like the memories of great holiday seasons past. Celebrate the holidays with Anchor Christmas Ale, an Anchor tradition since 1975.

6 pack of 12oz bottles go for $9.99. Classic Anchor label style with distinctive rendering of Norfolk Island pine that provides a distinctly Christmas feel.

STYLE: Winter warmer


COLOR (0-2): Dark ruby brown, almost black. 2

AROMA (0-2): Nutmeg and chocolate. 2

HEAD (0-2): Tan color, decent volume, and good lacing. 2

TASTE (0-5): Toasted malts, nutmeg, brown sugar, cinnamon, allspice, and a bit of hoppy pine. Medium-bodied with an oily mouthfeel. Quite drinkable. 4

AFTERTASTE (0-2): Smooth and slightly warming. 2

OVERALL (0-6): This is a perfect beer for the season. There is a good combination of rich delicious flavors yet it is not overly heavy. The nutmeg and pine in particular make Anchor Christmas Ale an appropriate beer to bear the name. 4

TOTAL SCORE (0-19): 16