Beer Revisited: Anchor Christmas Ale 2014

Even though (I think) I decided last year to no longer keep and age each edition of Anchor’s Christmas Ale, I noticed two bottles of Christmas Ale 2015 chilling’ in my fridge. Weird.

Needless to say, I will drink one and then save the other for next year just for old time’s sake. But before I do that, I have one last bottle of Christmas Ale 2014 to drink.

The color is dark brown, maybe mahogany. A finger of dense, buttery, cappuccino-colored, luscious head leaves a frothy and uneven cap on the surface, along with trails of lacing. The aroma is spicy and festive with scents of cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg, I think. (My olfactory skills just are not what they used to be, probably because I’m not longer as passionate about beer as I once was.) It is fruity, too, reminiscent of fruit-flavored sugar cookies. It is arboreal, also, with a type of evergreen. (I can’t decide whether it is pine or spruce. I’m leaning pine.) The flavor is a spice bomb! Wooo! The cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and evergreen are prominent. However, they fade mid-sip and the beer tastes very much like a brown ale with lots of toasted malt and dark fruit. I want to say all-space is in the mix as well, but perhaps that is because the spiciness reminds me so much of pumpkin ales. (They are the only spiced beers I try.) There are also flavors of caramel and cherry licorice. The spice lingers on the taste buds long after each sip.

Comparison to 2014 and 2015 tastings: This beer has not changed all that much in the past two years. Does that mean it has aged well? Poorly? Since I leave the bottles in my fridge, the aging process is much slower than it would be if I aged them at room temperature. Perhaps that is why the aroma and flavor are mostly unchanged: I essentially preserved it. However, there are some flavors and aromas that I did not mention in my most recent review, most notably cocoa and peppermint. Peppermint was on my mind during the tasting, but I did not include it in my notes. Why? Because I’ve grown unwilling to mention flavors or scents that I think sound silly. (Perhaps my olfactory skills are fine. Perhaps the problem is timidity.) Anyway, I mentioned red cinnamon in both previous reviews and think that is a dead match for the cinnamon I experienced this time. Overall, this was a really pleasing experience. Perhaps I shouldn’t stop aging these bottles, especially since I conveniently have two bottles of 2016 left. Decisions, decisions…

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