If it’s November, it’s time to plunk down $1.79 for a bottle of ANCHOR BREWING “OUR SPECIAL ALE”, a.k.a. ANCHOR CHRISTMAS ALE, as I’ve been doing every year since time immemorial. As legend has it, this was the first holiday beer produced in the United States in the modern era, and it’s one of the few that actually changes up the recipe every year to produce something unique – and often wonderful – for the 2-3 months it’s on the shelves. There may be other holiday annuals that I like better than this one, but I’m never going to let a year pass without imbibing a bottle of Anchor’s.
Been a couple of years since they’ve blown me away, however, and ANCHOR CHRISTMAS 2009 is no exception. You’re hit with an incredible whiff of spices right up front, just as you would be with a batch of nutmeg & cinnamon-drenched cookies. The beer is a medium-bodied, very malty ale with a “lightly roasted” feel to it. There’s one spice in there that’s really interesting and hard to put my finger on – I could swear it’s ginger, as it has that sort of sharpness to it. The other predominant taste is brown sugar. I was quite surprised that, given what I’ve just told you, how quickly I drank this thing. Normally I like a glass of contemplative beer to go with dinner, and this beer was done & gone before we’d even sat down to sup. I recommend picking up a bottle – everyone seems to have a different take on this beer each year. HBJ’s take is 6.5/10.