Its amazing how quickly time goes by! It seems that The Brew Club only just finished reviewing a bunch of Oktoberfest beers, and here we are in December reviewing Christmas Beers and Winter Seasonal beers!
For the last 34 years, Anchor Brewing Company’s Merry Christmas and Happy New Year beer is uniquely brewed in the spirit of the “joy and celebration of the newness of life.” Awwww, how sweet. Apparently, each year the recipe is changed a little bit, as is the label – so this Christmas Beer is really a one-time creation! Many people end up keeping a bottle or two from each year to either collect, or to compare one year’s batch of beer to the next. Definitely something for the beer sample collector to get into!
The Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2008 Ale pours a pretty large head – almost like a root-beer float might. Big, foamy, and beige colored. It takes a little bit for the head to go down, and then it leaves a coating of foam on the surface of the beer and there’s a little bit of lacing left behind. The Ale is really dark, but when its held up to the light you can see that it is not brown or black, but a very dark reddish-color. The beer is also clear, and once the head settled down it didn’t appear to be overly carbonated.
The smell is certainly interesting. The label says something about ‘spices and natural flavors added’, but I suppose the exact makeup of these ingredients will remain a mystery – kind of like like why Santa left me coal last year. (Thanks, man.) I can pick up the malt and some mellow sweetness like caramel or maybe toffee. Very nice.
So, onto the taste!
This Anchor beer is a smooth drinker, and to me has medium body. It was a little bitter, but no hop-action until the finish where there’s a bit that comes through. Overall, this beer tastes very malty, and just a touch of whatever spices are in the secret mix come through so it isn’t like ‘mulled beer’ or anything over the top like that. If I had to guess, it might be a little bit of ginger (or something similar) in there that sort of prickles the tongue for awhile after. It has a slightly bitter aftertaste, and left my mouth feeling a little dry and a bit sticky. Not bad though.
Overall, I like this Christmas Ale from Anchor although ultimately I enjoyed the smell more than I enjoyed the taste. It isn’t one of my 2008 favorite beers, but it isn’t bad and I would probably pick up next year’s rendition as well just to see what they come up with. As far as Christmas beers go, I like it better than the Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale – but they are two different animals completely.
If you see it this Anchor Christmas beer, and can swing the relatively high price, ($10.99 +tax in Jersey) go ahead and grab a six pack to share with your friends because it’s worth a try!
Beer Brewing Kits make great gifts!