Every year Anchor Brewing Company releases “Our Special Ale”, their version of the winter warmer. Each year they modify the recipe, and they label, before releasing it to the public. This year’s brew (the 36th) has an ABV of 5.5%.
Every year since 1975 the brewers at Anchor have brewed a distinctive and unique Christmas Ale, which is available 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, appears born anew. Our tree for 2010 is the Ginkgo biloba tree.
Our Special Ale 2010 pours a DARK ruby with a humongous tan head. The head is like that of a root beer float that starts at four inches before slowly fading to clumps of foam floating atop this murky brew. Lacing hangs like splashes of dried wax.
When I first took whiff from the bottle of this beer I detected scents of dark fruit, cough syrup, maple syrup, with a very faint spruce like hop note. After it was poured I picked up cola and cappuccino bean ice cream. I also picked up a scent that reminded me of a banana split! Every time I took another whiff of this beer I picked up a different scent!
The taste brings in more flavors in the mix! The initial flavor is sweet like prunes, with sourdough bread and semi-sweet chocolate. A faint spruce hoppiness and cherry cough syrup notes appear toward the end of each sip. The aftertaste reminds me of cordial cherries, with a very, very slight booziness.
Mouthfeel is medium and creamy. It doesn’t dry or stick, but it does leave some residue in your mouth.
Although the flavor is more straight forward Winter Warmer, the nose on this beer is one of the most unusual and vast I’ve encountered in recent memory. Since they change the recipe every year, I now am looking forward to what 2011 has in store for us.
Overall: 7.5 out of 10
As a WINTER WARMER; 7.5 out of 10
FOR FANS OF: Avery OLD JUBILATION, Shipyard PRELUDE SPECIAL ALE, Boulevard NUTCRACKER ALE