Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A Microbrew Review of Anchor Brewing Company's "Our Special Ale"

I was lucky to find and procure several bottles of Anchor Brewing Company's "Our Special Ale" tonight. Anchor Brewing Company craft beer products are not easily found in my locale (here in Western Pennsylvania) and a special find like Anchor Brewing Company's Christmas Ale 2007 seasonal beer is not one to just take for granted.

I've heard and read quite a lot about Anchor Brewing Company (based way, way out in California as a San Francisco-oriented craft beer brewery)and have had the opportunity only to try a couple of their lovingly produced ales. I know of one gentleman who frequents my local bottle shop who always seems to be grabbing a 12 pack of Anchor Steam Ale every time I'm there. I'm guessing it's "his beer" and perhaps he possibly drinks nothing else. Maybe that's a strong indicator of Anchor Brewing's cult type following nationally. Who knows for sure?

Anyway, on to Anchor Brewing Co.'s Christmas Ale. This Christmastime seasonal beer is only offered from November to January each year and the recipe differs each year as well. I've discovered that the "tree" on the front of the label is an actual unique tree also. Very ketchy. I like the marketing already. The label lists the 2007 vintage as well as "Merry Christmas & Happy New Year"! Nice, especially nowadays where everywhere you turn, people seem to go out of their way to be politically correct in leaving the word "Christmas" out of anything they print or portray.

Pouring the 12 ounce brown, glass bottle of ale into my trusty 14 ounce glass mug, this beer pours an almost opaque dark ruby with an abundance of carbonation (bubbles firing everywhere) and a huge billowing head of fluffy carmel frost on top. Very visually inviting this beer is.

Aroma is spicy, scents of mild carmel, sweet fruits (dates?!?) and a slight twinge of what I perceived as cloves. Hmmm, very interesting so far.

Tipping the mug back to my lips, Anchor's "Our Special Ale" does not disappoint or let down in the slightest. This craft beer is crisp and refreshing and lively in every sense of the word. I could very much just describe this seasonal beer in one simple word, "festive". It's very smooth and gives a sweet malty coating on the palate. Very chewy, almost a meal in itself. I tasted a nice balance of hop backbone to offset the sweet, malt characters and the spice made its presence felt just enough to not be too overbearing. I really like the balance and it's just hard to describe the equilibrium between the beer feeling heavy but still alive and zesty at the same time. If a craft beer could be judged on its ability to seem like a living organism, Anchor Brewing Company's 2007 vintage of "Our Special Ale" would be that beer for me.

In brief summary, I personally would highly recommend Anchor Brewing Co.'s "Our Special Ale" for your next holiday meal or festive gathering. I'd recommend this one to my dearest of friends. Anchor Christmas Ale is rich, robust, refreshing, pleasing to the eye and boasts loads and loads of character. It's an interesting ale that I could personally enjoy more than 2 or 3 of at a sitting without getting bored even in the slightest. In a nutshell, this is one great craft beer any time of the year, let alone as a special Christmas Ale. I guess that just lends a little more to its mystique, being that there's only just a small window of time for you to pick some up for your beer refrigerator before it's all gone until the 2008 edition is released next Christmas. I will give Anchor Brewing Company's a big 8.75 out of 10.00 points in my ratings as an excellent representation of what a celebratory Christmas time, holiday ale should be. It's a winner!

If you experienced any slight fun or enjoyment in perusing this microbrew beer review and, if you love craft beers in particular, you'll find more reviews of both new and old microbrews, craft beers of all kinds, and also fun microbrew and craft beer-related info at Microbrew Review or Microbrew and Craft Beer Reviews. Click through on the links above and please take a second to let me know what you liked or didn't like and also note any beers that you might like to see me review next time! Hey, I'm new at this beer review thing. I need to know what I should be trying out!

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