Style: “Winter Warmer”
Serving style: 12-oz and 1.5-liter bottles
Appearance: “I’d describe the body as a russet or mahogany shade. A tan or beige head starts out fairly thick, but it doesn’t stay there too long, dissipating to a little light-colored float that lasts quite a while.”
Aroma: “First impression is caramel. That’s followed by a subtle spiciness in the nose.”
Taste: “More of that spice comes through in the taste. It seems to me like ‘brown spices’ to use a cliché of current wine descriptions. I guess that might mean cinnamon or nutmeg, which doesn’t sound like something I’d ordinarily want to encounter in my beer, but this is quite subtle. There’s something else in there, too (like coriander maybe?). These guys at Anchor have been brewing special ales at Christmas time for at least 40 years and, as I understand the story, each year there’s a different recipe. These holiday flavors are quite balanced this year. The feeling in the mouth is not thick or unctuous. Unlike Anchor Steam, it’s not a beer I’d want to drink year-round, but then that’s not the point, as it’s only available for a month or two at this time of year.”
Food Affinity: “There might be some savory dishes with which you could pair this beer. Maybe a spicy stew or spaghetti puttanesca with fennel sausage would work. However, I’m thinking this beer might take an usual role of accompanying a dessert like pumpkin pie. It might also be a nice drink to have with a piece of fruitcake. No, I’m not joking. I really like fruitcake, especially the really dark versions with lots of candied fruit and maybe made with brandy and rum.”
--Guest reviewer Brad Dunphy is a Northern Californian and a consultant to the wine industry.