I love the holidays. If you’re able to get past the blatant consumerism, it’s a pretty cool time of the year. We’re all supposed to be kinder to each other and more supportive of those less fortunate than ourselves. It’s also a time of the year when we get to spend more time with our friends and families.
In addition to all the above mentioned reasons, I love this time of year because of all the great craft beers made to ring in the season. I take the time to gather as many of these beers as I can afford and review them in a series of posts I call, “The 12 Beers of Christmas”. In reality, it’s just a great excuse for me to go out and try as many of these beers as possible. That said, let’s get this party started with an oldie, but goodie!
Our Special Ale 2012, Anchor Brewing, 5.5% ABV
Our Special Ale is the Winter seasonal from Anchor Brewing Company. This holiday ale is an example of a spiced beer and is the 38th in the series! What’s pretty cool about the series is that they change up the recipe for this beer every year, just like they do the labels. If I could afford it, I’d pick up a collection of the entire set.
Our Special Ale pours out a dark brown in color, clear, with a beige/tan colored head, and ruby hues. The aroma is herbal, with spices, and a little musty. The flavor is malty, with deep toasty notes and some caramel. The spice character is reminiscent of nutmeg, allspice, and a hint of ginger. Hop flavor is citrus, hop bitterness is medium. The beer has a medium-low/medium body, with high carbonation, and a dry finish.
I think this may be the year that I almost reverse my stance on spiced beers. I’m at the point where I don’t mind them so much and this beer has gone a long way to changing my views.
Gingerbread Ale, Bison Brewing Company, 6.0% ABV
Speaking of spiced beers, I wanted to review the Gingerbread Ale from Bison Brewing. It’s not a winter seasonal, per se, but their pumpkin beer alternative. The very first time I tasted this beer was during a beer festival. At the time, I liked it because it was different from all the pumpkin beers out at the time.
Gingerbread Ale pours out a clear dark brown, with a beige head, with amber/ruby highlights. The aroma is of spices, like ginger, allspice, slight nutmeg and cinnamon. The flavor is malty with a toasty character, light caramel notes, and spices (ginger, allspice, nutmeg and slight cinnamon). Hop bitterness is medium-low. This beer has a medium-low body, high carbonation, and a dry finish.
This is an easy drinking beer and makes for a fantastic alternative to all the pumpkin spiced beer that are out on the market. Or if you wait long enough, you can ring in the holiday season with this wonderful craft ale.
So far, this year’s 12 Beers of Christmas is off to a great start! If you’ve had either of these beers before, I’d love to hear your thoughts about them in the comments section below.