Anchor Steam Christmas Ale & Holiday Beer Guide
by Erik Wollschlager and Chris Groves
"We’re not just changing for change sake. We always hope that each year, it’s going to be a little better,” says Anchor Brewing brewmaster Mark Carpenter, regarding the annual release of their Christmas Beer. The 2015 version—Anchor’s 41st release of their ‘Special Ale’ is a deep and smooth dark ale, and while it seems to be slightly less spiced than last year’s version, it remains one of the country’s best winter warmers. There is the presence of traditional warmer spices, such as nutmeg and clove, though both are a little more subdued than similar beers brewed in this style, but this allows more of the malt and chocolate flavors to come forward. At 5.5% ABV, the beer leans toward a session beer—far more so than its winter warmer counterparts. The spice makes the 2015 a great pair with holiday desserts, like pumpkin or apple pie, as well as anything with chocolate. The complexity of the beer also makes it a fantastic choice to serve with a holiday meal featuring roasted meats and winter vegetables. Anchor’s Merry Christmas and Happy New Year can be found in 6-packs at your local grocer or bottle shop, but there is also a 1.5L magnum bottle, which is perfect for sharing or for an evening fireside with a plate of cookies, a pipe of cavendish, and a great book.
Style: Winter & Holiday Seasonal Beer
If you haven’t done your beer shopping yet for the holidays because you’re trying to perfect procrastination...keep it going, you’re doing a good job. I have come up with a list of 13 beers for you to reference when your friends ask what you would suggest, because they know you as “the friend who knows a lot about beer”. Starting on the traditional Winter Ale side, you will never go wrong with Anchor’s “Our Special Ale”, Great Lakes Christmas Ale (aka Christmas crack), local favorite Flying Bison Winter Warmer or one of my favorites, Samuel Smith’s Winter Welcome. These beers are staples of the winter season, each bringing their own unique combination of spice, malty sweetness and warming finish to your table. Moving into the darker and maltier realm, Ithaca’s Embrr Rye Porter, Ommegang’s Lovely Dark & Deep, Brooklyn’s Black Chocolate Stout and Community Beer Works’ Stout Affective Disorder (draft only) will keep the merriment afloat. Picking a few Belgian winter beers like N’Ice Chouffe, St. Bernardus Christmas and Delirium Noel can never hurt, as long as sledding pink elephants don’t scare you. Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale is always a winner on it’s own little island being one of only a few hop-forward holiday releases around, along with Southern Tier’s Krampus, a hoppy Imperial Lager ode to the Christmas Devil. This is by no means a “best of” list, rather a guide to get you started. Shop local this and every season and get your butts down to a local brewery! #happystarwarsweekblog comments powered by Disqus
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