Christmas Special – Winter Warmer – American: Anchor “Our Special Ale 2013″

Merry Christmas everyone! My Beer choice this year is Anchor’s Special Ale from 2013. It’s been sitting in a Cellar for just over a year and Christmas Day is always a good time to open one of these! Anchor release these beers in the lead up to Christmas, and they are always spiced differently.

Let’s start with Anchor‘s description:

This is the thirty-ninth ‘Our Special Ale’ from the brewers at Anchor. It is sold only 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. Since ancient times, trees have symbolized the winter solstice when the earth, with its seasons, appear born anew.”; “Merry Christmas Happy New Year”; “Abies concolor var. Lowiana.

A humble description from Anchor, as always! I feel the fact they are one of the oldest Craft Breweries in America always comes across well. They’ve been making the Special Ale since 1975, and have been a brewery in it’s current format since 1960.

Now, the recipe for this beer is completely Top Secret according to Anchor, but that’s never stopped me analysing a beer and trying to figure out whats in the recipe. So for this particular years beer, I think the spices used are Nutmeg, Vanilla Beans and Star Anise. They’re usually added around 90 Minutes during the Boil Period. As for the malts, the traditional Anchor malt 2-row is used along with Caramel Malt and Chocolate Malt. The Hops are not very prominent in this brew, so I’m guessing Northern Brewer is used for both boil and Dry-Hop hops. After this a normal American Ale yeast is used to ferment.

When you pour this beer, it’s a nice dark ruby colour, a medium to large tan coloured head with great retention. Once it does recede you get a lot of spotty lacing on the sides of the glass and a nice uneven surface foam on top of the beer. On the nose there’s lots of Chocolate malt aromas, mild roastyness and some caramel. I’d say it’s pretty Christmassy so far! When you taste this beer, initially you get a strange mint flavour which is actually quite nice and refreshing, after this Vanilla and a touch of Fruity Fig like flavours. After this the Roasted and Chocolate malts kick in, ending with a bitter Hoppy finish. This beer feels extremely smooth and ends with a medium-sweet finish with a touch of bitterness. This year’s one really is balanced and great, with a superb malty backing. Let’s hope this year’s one is even better!

I recommend buying this years and putting it in a cellar temperature place until next Christmas. It’s worth it!

You can grab Anchor Christmas Ale (Or our Special Ale) at Borough Market at London Bridge in Utobeer and the following online stores should have it in soon:-

Beautiful Beers

Beer Gonzo

For any bars, shops etc that are interested, Anchor products are distributed by James Clay in the UK and comes in Cans and Bottles.

EST. CALORIES: 165   ABV: 5.5%